Also found in: Thesaurus, Legal, Financial, Acronyms, Idioms, Wikipedia.


aux.v. Past tense of shall
1. Used to express obligation or duty: You should send her a note.
2. Used to express probability or expectation: They should arrive at noon.
3. Used to express conditionality or contingency: If she should fall, then so would I.
4. Used to moderate the directness or bluntness of a statement: I should think he would like to go.
Usage Note: Just as they ignore the traditional rules governing the use of shall and will, Americans largely ignore the traditional rules governing the use of should and would. The two verbs are not always interchangeable, however. To express duty or obligation, should is required and functions as the equivalent of ought to: I (or you or he) should go. But would (and not should) is used to express willingness or promise (I agreed that I would do it) and to express habitual action in the past (In those days we would walk along the canal at night). Would also has the advantage of being a polite substitute for will in requests: Would you lend me a dollar? Either should or would can be used in the first person to express the future from the point of view of the past, but one should bear in mind that should sounds more formal than would: He swore that I should (or less formally, would) pay for the remark. The same principle applies to the verb in sentences that express a hypothetical condition or event: If I had known that, I would (or more formally, should) have answered differently. In the second and third persons, however, only would is used: She assured us that she would (not should) return. If he had known that, he would (not should) have answered differently. · Choosing which verb to use in conditional clauses, such as those beginning with if, can be tricky. In certain clauses, should is used for all three persons: If I (or you or he) should decide to go, we will need a larger car. If it should begin to snow, we will stay here tonight. Would is not acceptable in these if clauses, but it does appear in other kinds of conditional clauses: He might surprise you if you would give him a chance. The best advice is to follow what sounds most natural. When in doubt, writers can try a verb form in the indicative (if it begins to snow) or the subjunctive (if you were to give him a chance). See Usage Notes at if, rather, shall.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(Grammar) the past tense of shall: used as an auxiliary verb to indicate that an action is considered by the speaker to be obligatory (you should go) or to form the subjunctive mood with I or we (I should like to see you; if I should be late, go without me). See also shall
[Old English sceold; see shall]
Usage: Should has, as its most common meaning in modern English, the sense ought as in I should go to the graduation, but I don't see how I can. However, the older sense of the subjunctive of shall is often used with I or we to indicate a more polite form than would: I should like to go, but I can't. In much speech and writing, should has been replaced by would in contexts of this kind, but it remains in formal English when a conditional subjunctive is used: should he choose to remain, he would be granted asylum
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


auxiliary v.
1. pt. of shall.
2. (used to indicate duty, propriety, or expediency): You should not do that.
3. (used to express condition): Were he to arrive, I should be pleased.
4. (used to make a statement less direct or blunt): I should think you would apologize.
[Middle English sholde, Old English sc(e)olde; see shall]
usage: Rules similar to those for choosing between shall and will have long been advanced for should and would, but most educated native speakers of American English do not follow the textbooks. In most constructions, would is the auxiliary chosen regardless of the subject: If our allies supported the move, we would abandon any claim to sovereignty. Because the main function of should in modern American English is to express duty, necessity, etc., its use for other purposes, as to form a subjunctive, can produce ambiguity, at least initially: I should get my flu shot if I were you. Furthermore, should seems an affectation to many Americans in certain constructions quite common to British English: I should (American would) really prefer a different arrangement. See also shall.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. basic uses

Should is sometimes used with a similar meaning to 'ought to' and sometimes with a similar meaning to 'would'.

Should has the negative form should not. The not is not usually pronounced in full. When you write down what somebody says, you write shouldn't.

The following are some less common uses of should. When should is used in any of these ways, you pronounce it in full and you do not write it as ''d'.

2. 'should' in subordinate clauses

Should is sometimes used in subordinate clauses, especially in writing. You use it in 'that'-clauses after verbs like propose and suggest.

He proposes that the Government should hold an inquiry.
His vets advised that the horse should be put down.
Someone suggested that they break into small groups.

In formal English, should is sometimes used in conditional clauses.

We worry about them having to suffer taunts and ridicule if anyone should find out.

In a sentence like this, should can be put at the beginning of the clause, followed by the subject.

Should ministers decide to instigate an inquiry, we would welcome it.

In conversation and most kinds of writing, it is not necessary to use should in this kind of clause. You just use the simple present tense. For example, instead of saying 'If he should come, we will talk to him', you say 'If he comes, we will talk to him'.

3. requests and offers

When you are making a formal request or offer, you can use should in a conditional sentence.

I should be obliged if you would send them to me.
If you know of a better method, I should be delighted to try it.
If I could help, I would be delighted to do anything I can.
I would like to ask you one question please.
4. announcements

You can use should with like when you are formally announcing that you are going to do something.

We should like to make the following proposals.
I would like to make some general observations.
5. purpose clauses

Should can be used after I or we in a purpose clause.

He left the dirty things in his bedroom on purpose so that I would see them.
6. wishes and requests

You can express a wish by using I should like .

I should like to live in the country.

You can say what you do not want by using I shouldn't like.

I shouldn't like Amanda to see more of him than is absolutely unavoidable.
I would like to be able to help.
I wouldn't like to live in the city.
7. possible situations

You use should after I or we to say that something is certain to happen in particular circumstances.

I should be very unhappy on the continent.
We would be glad to have money of our own.


ought to
1. expectation

You use should or ought to to say that you expect something to happen.

We should be there by dinner time.
It ought to get easier with practice.

You use should or ought to with have and an -ed participle to say that you expect something to have happened already.

You should have heard by now that I'm O.K.
It's ten o'clock, so they ought to have reached the station.

You also use should or ought to with have and an -ed participle to say that something was expected to happen, but did not happen.

Bags which should have gone to Rome were sent to New York.
The project ought to have finished by now.

Be Careful!
You must use have and an -ed participle in sentences like these. Don't say, for example, 'The project ought to finish by now'.

2. moral rightness

You use should or ought to to say that something is morally right.

Crimes should be punished.
I ought to call the police.
3. giving advice

You can say you should or you ought to when you are giving someone advice.

I think you should go see your doctor.
I think you ought to try a different approach.
4. negative forms

Should and ought to have the negative forms should not and ought not to.

This should not be allowed to continue.
They ought not to have said anything.

The not is not usually pronounced in full. When you write down what someone says, you write shouldn't or oughtn't to.

You shouldn't dress like that, Andrew.
They oughtn't to mention it.

When you make a negative statement with ought in American English, you can omit to:

You oughtn't answer the door without your shirt on.
Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012
تُسْتَعْمَل لتعني: كان يَجِب أنتُسْتَعْمَل لِتَعني: من المُحْتَمَل أنتُسْتَعْمَل للإشارة إلى حَدَثٍ مُفاجئصيغة الماضي من الفِعل بِمَعنى: يَجِبيَنْبَغِي
budoucí čas po minulém časelítost, překvapeníměl bynáležitostpodmínka: jen kdybych
burdeskullevillekunne godt tænke
deberdeber (expressing obligation)deber de (expressing probability)gustar (expressing future/conditional)si
ættiættirhver heldur òú aî hafi òá ekkimundiskulir
derėtųreikėtųturėčiauturėtum ir t. t
-ecek olursaherhâlde ...-ecekİsterdimİsterimİstiyorum


1. (used to form conditional tense) I should go if they sent for meiría si me llamasen
should I be out at the time; if I should be out at the timesi estoy fuera en ese momento
I shouldn't be surprised ifno me sorprendería si ...
I should have liked tome hubiera gustado ..., quisiera haber ...
thanks, I should like togracias, me gustaría
I shouldn't like to sayprefiero no decirlo
I should think sosupongo que sí
I should be so lucky!¡ojalá!
2. (duty, advisability, desirability) → deber
all cars should carry a first-aid kittodos los coches deberían llevar un botiquín
you should take more exercisedeberías hacer más ejercicio
I should have been a doctoryo debería haber sido médico
you shouldn't do thatno deberías hacerlo, más vale no hacer eso
I shouldn't if I were youyo que tú no lo haría
he should know thatdebiera or debería saber que ...
all is as it should betodo está en regla
..., which is as it should be..., como es razonable, ..., que es como tiene que ser
why should I?¿por qué lo voy a hacer?, ¿por qué tengo que hacerlo?
why should he (have done it)?¿por qué lo iba a hacer?, ¿por qué tenía que hacerlo?
why should you want to know?¿por qué has de saberlo tú?
3. (statements of probability) → deber de
he should pass his examsdebería de aprobar los exámenes
they should have arrived by nowdeben (de) haber llegado ya
he should be there by nowya debería estar allí
they should arrive tomorrowdeberán or deben (de) llegar mañana
that shouldn't be too hardeso no debería ser muy difícil
I should have told you beforetendría que or debería habértelo dicho antes
this should be goodesto promete ser bueno
4. (subjunctive uses) ... and who should I bump into but Mike?... ¿y con quién crees que me encuentro? ¡pues con Mike!
he ordered that it should be donemandó que se hiciera
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˈʃʊd](STRONG) [ʃəd] aux vb
(saying what is right or appropriate)
I should go now → Je devrais partir maintenant.
You should take more exercise → Vous devriez faire plus d'exercice.
Should our children be taught to swim at school? → Nos enfants devraient-ils apprendre à nager à l'école?
(giving or reporting orders)
All visitors should register with the British Embassy → Tous les visiteurs doivent s'inscrire auprès de l'ambassade britannique.
(expressing desirability)
I should have told you before → J'aurais dû te le dire avant.
I shouldn't have said what I did → Je n'aurais pas dû dire ce que j'avais fait.
You should have done that yesterday → Tu aurais dû faire ça hier.
You should have seen his face! → Si tu avais vu sa tête!
(expressing probability)
He should be there now → Il devrait être arrivé maintenant.
That shouldn't be too hard → Ça ne devrait pas être trop difficile.
(asking for advice)
What should I do? → Qu'est-ce que je dois faire?
Should I or shouldn't I go to university? → Est-ce que je dois aller à la fac ou pas?
(in conditional clauses)
I should go if I were you → Si j'étais vous j'irais.
Should he phone → Si jamais il téléphone ...
I should be so lucky! → ça serait trop beau!
(after "that")
He insisted that we should leave → Il a insisté pour que nous partions.
(expressing opinion)
I should think it's going to rain → Je pense qu'il va pleuvoir.
(in polite requests, offers or statements)
I should like a cup of coffee → Je prendrais bien un café.
I should like to come → J'aimerais bien venir.
I should like to → Volontiers.
(expressing surprise)
Who should I meet but Anne and Graham! → Devine qui j'ai rencontré? Anne et Graham!
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


pret of shall
modal aux vb
(expressing duty, advisability, command) I/he should do thatich/er sollte das tun; you shouldn’t do thatSie sollten das nicht tun; I should have done itich hätte es tun sollen or müssen; I shouldn’t have done itich hätte es nicht tun sollen or dürfen; all is as it should bealles ist so, wie es sein sollte or muss; which is as it should beund so soll(te) es auch sein; he should know that it’s wrong to lieer sollte or müsste wissen, dass man nicht lügen darf; you really should see that filmden Film sollten or müssen Sie wirklich sehen; you should have seen his face! (inf)du hättest sein Gesicht sehen sollen!; should I go too? — yes you shouldsollte ich auch gehen? — ja, das sollten Sie schon; was it a good film? — I should think it waswar der Film gut? — und ob; he’s coming to apologize — I should think soer will sich entschuldigen — das möchte ich auch meinen or hoffen; … and I should know… und ich müsste es ja wissen; how should I know?woher soll ich das wissen?
(expressing probability) he should be there by nower müsste eigentlich schon da sein; they should arrive tomorrowsie müssten morgen ankommen; this should be enoughdas müsste eigentlich reichen; why should he suspect me?warum sollte er mich verdächtigen?; this book should help youdieses Buch wird Ihnen bestimmt helfen; this should be good! (inf)das wird bestimmt gut!
(in tentative statements) I shouldn’t like to saydas möchte ich nicht gern sagen; I should hardly have called him an idiotich hätte ihn wohl kaum einen Idioten genannt; I should think there were about 40ich würde schätzen, dass etwa 40 dort waren; should I open the window?soll ich das Fenster aufmachen?; I should like to disagreeda möchte ich widersprechen; I should like to knowich wüsste gern, ich möchte gern wissen; I should like to apply for the jobich würde mich gern um die Stelle bewerben; thanks, I should like todanke, gern
(expressing surprise) who should I see/should it be but Anne!und wen sehe ich/und wer wars? Anne!; why should he want to know/do that?warum will er das wohl wissen/machen?; why should he have done it, if …?warum hat er es dann gemacht, wenn …?
(subjunc, conditional) I/he should go if …ich/er würde gehen, wenn …; we should have come if …wir wären gekommen, wenn …; it seems unbelievable that he should have failed/be so younges scheint unglaublich, dass er versagt hat/so jung ist; I don’t see why he shouldn’t have paid by nowich verstehe nicht, warum er bis jetzt noch nicht bezahlt hat; if they should send for mewenn or falls sie nach mir schicken sollten; if he should come, should he comefalls er kommen sollte, sollte er kommen; should it not be truesollte das nicht wahr sein; I shouldn’t be surprised if he comes or came or were to comeich wäre nicht or keineswegs überrascht, wenn er kommen würde or wenn er käme; I shouldn’t (do that) if I were youich würde das an Ihrer Stelle nicht tun; I shouldn’t worry about itich würde mir darüber keine Gedanken machen; it is necessary that he should be toldes ist nötig, dass man es ihm sagt; unless he should change his mindfalls er es sich (dat)nicht anders überlegt
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ʃʊd] modal aux vb
a. (duty, advisability, desirability) all school buses should have seat beltstutti gli autobus scolastici dovrebbero essere forniti di cinture di sicurezza
I should go now → dovrei andare ora
I should have been a doctor → avrei dovuto fare il medico
you shouldn't do that → non dovresti farlo
I should go if I were you → se fossi in te andrei
I shouldn't if I were you → se fossi in te non lo farei
how should I know? → e che ne so io?, e come faccio a saperlo?
b. (probability) he should pass his examsdovrebbe superare gli esami
they should have arrived by now → a quest'ora dovrebbero essere già arrivati
he should be there now → dovrebbe essere arrivato ora
this should be good → dovrebbe essere bello
c. (conditional uses) if they invited me I should go or I'd gose mi invitassero ci andrei
I should like to → mi piacerebbe
I should have liked to → mi sarebbe piaciuto
I should think so! → mi pare!, direi!
should he phone ... (frm) → se telefonasse..., se dovesse telefonare...
who should I see but Maria! → e chi dovevo vedere se non Maria!
d. (remote form of shall in indirect speech) I told you I should be lateti ho detto che avrei fatto tardi
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(ʃud) negative short form shouldn't (ˈʃudnt) verb
1. past tense of shall . I thought I should never see you again.
2. used to state that something ought to happen, be done etc. You should hold your knife in your right hand; You shouldn't have said that.
3. used to state that something is likely to happen etc. If you leave now, you should arrive there by six o'clock.
4. used after certain expressions of sorrow, surprise etc. I'm surprised you should think that.
5. used after if to state a condition. If anything should happen to me, I want you to remember everything I have told you today.
6. (with I or we) used to state that a person wishes something was possible. I should love to go to France (if only I had enough money).
7. used to refer to an event etc which is rather surprising. I was just about to get on the bus when who should come along but John, the very person I was going to visit.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


يَنْبَغِي měl by burde sollte πρέπει deber pitäisi il faudrait trebati dovrei, dovresti するべきだ ~해야한다 moeten burde mieć powinność dever должен borde ควรจะ zorunda olmak nên 应该
Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009


v. aux. cond. pret. of shall, deber.
English-Spanish Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012
Collins Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009