- Talk about probability, mild obligations, and expectations
- In conditionals when replacing would
- To replace the subjunctive structure
- When giving advice or make a recommendation
Structure Of Should
The sentence structure for using should is:
subject + should + main verb
Do not use to with the main verb when using should. It is always the bare infinitive so this sentence is incorrect “I should to help my mom”. The sentence “I should help my mom” is correct. Also, should is never conjugated.
|subject||auxiliary verb||main verb|
It’s important to keep in mind that there is only one form of should. As mentioned above, the main verb is always the bare infinitive. Also, while the negative should not can be shortened to shouldn’t, but there is no short form of should.
Opinions and Advice
Should is frequently used when giving advice or offering opinions. You are not telling the person that they have to do what you are saying or that they must do what you are saying. Here are a few examples:
- You should pay more attention to what the teacher says.
- You should try those shoes on.
- You should try some pasta! It’s delicious!
- What should I read today?
- We should have a dance party.
- There should be more books like that.
Obligations, Duty, and Correctness
Another use of should is to indicate obligation or duty. It is also used to correct someone or to criticize them for their actions or habits.
- You should be helping your mother. (obligation)
- I should arrive at work on time. (duty)
- Billy shouldn’t have said that to her. (correctness)
- We should take your brother with you. (obligation)
- Tim should fix the work truck. (duty)
- She shouldn’t try to tell me what to do. (correctness)
Probability and Expectations
Should can also be used to show when we think something is probable or likely to happen. We expect it based on things we know from the past or due to instincts.
- The plane should be landing soon.
- It shouldn’t be so difficult to accomplish.
- They should have arrived by now.
Should With Conditionals
It is also acceptable to use should instead of would. This is used for the first person singular and first person plural for some conditionals.
- If I run laps, I should lose weight.
- If she studied more, she should pass her test.
- We should be ok, if you can stop by to help us.
Should To Replace Subjunctive
There is a special verb form called the subjunctive that we can use while talking about things that somebody wants, hopes, or imagines will happen. This is more common with British English speakers, and not with English speakers from the US.
Look at the American English example below:
- My mother insists that I come home for the holidays.
Here is the same sentence, but as a British English speaker would probably say it:
- My mother insists that I should come home for the holidays.
|Subjunctive – American English||Using should – British English|
|My teacher insisted that Jane do extra credit.||My teacher insisted that Jane should do extra credit.|
|We recommend that you ask her.||We recommend that you should ask her.|
|It is imperative that this is taken care of today.||It is imperative that this should be taken care of today.|
Should Disagreement Not Understanding
We use why should if there is something that we don’t understand or that agree with.
- Why should speeding be illegal?
- Why should I have to work late again?
Should Anger And Irritation
If you are becoming irritated, annoyed or angry you can use why should. How should is also used but typically the response is why should. Here are a few examples:
- Why should I have to listen to her?
- Why should I go to school when I am sick?
- How should she know what to do when you never explained it to her?
- How should I have known that the car would break down?