• (stressed) IPA: /ʃʊd/
  • (unstressed) IPA: /ʃəd/
  1. (auxiliary) Be obliged to; have an obligation to; indicates that the subject of the sentence has some obligation to execute the sentence predicate or that the speaker has some strong advice but has no authority to enforce it.
    What do I think? What should I do?
    You should never drink and drive.
    You should always wear a seat belt.
  2. (auxiliary) ought to; speaker's opinion, or advice that an action is correct, beneficial, or desirable.
    You should brush your teeth every day.
    I should exercise more often, but I'm too lazy.
  3. (auxiliary) Will be likely to (become or do something); indicates a degree of possibility or probability that the subject of the sentence is likely to execute the sentence predicate.
    When you press this button, the pilot flame should ignite.
    You should be warm enough with that coat.
  4. (auxiliary, subjunctive) Used as a variant of the present subjunctive.
    If I should be late, go without me.
    Should you need extra blankets, you will find them in the closet.
    • 1906, Alfred Noyes, The Highwayman:
      "One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I'm after a prize to-night,
      But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
      Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
      Then look for me by moonlight,
      Watch for me by moonlight,
      I'll come to thee by moonlight, though Hell should bar the way."
    • 1922, Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
      It was a long weary time, for the Boy was too ill to play, and the little Rabbit found it rather dull with nothing to do all day long. But he snuggled down patiently, and looked forward to the time when the Boy should be well again, and they would go out in the garden amongst the flowers and the butterflies and play splendid games in the raspberry thicket like they used to.
    • 2008, Peter Michael Higgins, Number Story: From Counting to Cryptography, page 141 (Google Books view) ↗:
      He is noted for coming up with his 'wager', in which he argued that he was prepared to believe in God on the grounds that he had nothing to lose if he was wrong, and everything to gain should he be right.
  5. (auxiliary) simple past tense of shall.
    I told him that I should be busy tomorrow.
    • 1842, Frederick Marryat, Peter Simple Frederick Marryat, page 19 (Google Books view) ↗:
      I was astonished at this polite offer, which my modesty induced me to ascribe more to my uniform than to my own merits, and, as I felt no inclination to refuse the compliment, I said that I should be most happy.
  6. (auxiliary, formal, literary) A variant of would when used with first person subjects.
    I should imagine that everything is fine right now.
    I should be lucky if I were you.
    • 1900, L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
      "If our friends, the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman, were only with us," said the Lion, "I should be quite happy."
    • 1900, L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Chapter 23
      "Your Silver Shoes will carry you over the desert," replied Glinda. "If you had known their power you could have gone back to your Aunt Em the very first day you came to this country." "But then I should not have had my wonderful brains!" cried the Scarecrow. "I might have passed my whole life in the farmer's cornfield."
Synonyms Antonyms Related terms
  • shouldst (archaic second-person singular of should)
  • should've (contraction of auxiliary phrase should have)
Translations Translations Translations
  • French: si
  • Portuguese: se, caso
  • Russian: е́сли
  • Spanish: si

should (plural shoulds)

  1. A statement of what ought to be the case as opposed to what is the case.
    • 1996, Fred Shoemaker, Extraordinary Golf: The Art of the Possible (page 88)
      When the golf ball is there, the whole self-interference package — the hopes, worries, and fears; the thoughts on how-to and how-not-to; the woulds, the coulds, and the shoulds — is there too.

should (shoulds, present participle shoulding; past and past participle shoulded)

  1. To make a statement of what ought to be true, as opposed to reality.

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