Modal verbs: SHOULD

SHOULD/SHOULDN’T(should not)

  • Recommendation/give advice/opinion.
    “You should study a bit more” (recommendation)
    “Anna looks stressed. She should go away for a few days”
    (giving advice)“I’ve got to work tomorrow…. should we order one more drink? (asking for advice)
    “Do you think I should apply for that job?” (asking for opinion)
  • The right/wrong thing to do.
    “We should deal with this problem asap”
    “You shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet”
    “He shouldn’t be driving that fast”
  • Uncertain prediction.
    “He should be home soon but I’m not sure”
    “Mary should be at the gym now”
  • Used when we expect something to happen.
    “My cousin has been studying hard for the exam, so she should pass” – I expect her to pass.
    “There are plenty of hotels in the city. It shouldn’t be hard to find accommodation” – I don’t expect it to be hard.
  • Should (not) have + past participle = when you mean something (in the past) was a good idea, but you didn’t do it OR when you mean something (in the past) wasn’t a good idea, but you did it anyway.
    “There are no tickets left. You should have bought them yesterday”
    “Chocolate is better. I shouldn’t have chosen strawberry”
  • It can be used after: insist/recommend/suggest/demand/propose.        
                  it’s important/vital/necessary/essential that…should…

I insisted that he should apologise” – I insisted that he apologise.
“Doctors recommend that everybody should eat fruit” – Doctors recommend that everybody eat fruit.
“What do you suggest we should do?” – What do you suggest we do?
“It’s essential that everyone should be here on time” – It’s essential that everyone be here on time.

‘should’ can be dropped because this is the subjunctive.

  • It can be used after: strange/odd/funny/typical/natural/interesting/surprised/surprising.
       “It’s strange that he should be late. He’s usually on time”
       “It’s funny that you should say the same thing.  I was going to say the same thing”
       “I was surprised that they should ask me for advice”
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