We use ‘should‘ for giving advice.
- You should speak to him about it.
- He should see a doctor.
- We should ask a lawyer.
We use ‘should‘ to give an opinion or a recommendation.
- He should resign now.
- We should invest more in Asia.
- They should do something about this terrible train service.
‘should‘ expresses a personal opinion and is much weaker and more personal than ‘must’ or ‘have to’. It is often introduced by ‘ I think’.
- I think they should replace him.
- I don’t think they should keep the contract.
- Do you think we should tell her.
We can use ‘should‘ after ‘reporting verbs’ such as
demand insist propose recommend suggest
- He demanded that we should pay for the repair.
- She insisted that she should pay for the meal.
- I have proposed that he should take charge of the organization.
- The committee recommends that Jane should be appointed.
- We have suggested that Michael should be given a reward for his hard work.
However, it is also possible to say exactly the same thing by omitting the ‘should‘ and just using the infinitive form without ‘to’ . Some people call this the ‘subjunctive’ form.
- He demanded that we pay for the repair.
- She insisted that she pay for the meal.
- I have proposed that he take charge of the organization.
- The committee recommends that Jane be appointed.
- We have suggested that Michael be given a reward for his hard work.
We can use ‘should‘ after various adjectives. Typical examples are :
funny interesting natural odd strange surprised surprising typical
- It’s funny that you should say that. I was thinking exactly the same thing.
- It’s interesting that they should offer him the job. Not an obvious choice.
- It’s natural that you should be anxious. Nobody likes speaking in public.
- Isn’t it odd that he should be going to the same tiny hotel? What a coincidence.
- It’s strange that you should think so. Nobody else does.
We can use ‘should‘ in ‘if clauses’ when we believe that the possibility of something happening is small.
- If you should happen to see him before I do, can you tell him that I want to speak to him urgently?
- If there should be a problem, just give me a call and I’ll sort it out.
- If anyone should ask where I am, say I’m in a meeting.
We use ‘should‘ in various fixed expressions.
To show strong agreement
- They’re paying you compensation? I should think so.
To express pleasure when you receive a gift
- What a fantastic present. You really shouldn’t have.
To emphasize a visible emotion
- You should have seen the look on her face when she found out that she had got the promotion