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  • Hi, I’m Martin.

  • Welcome to Oxford Online English!

  • In this lesson, you can learn how to use the modal and semi-modal verbs 'should', 'ought

  • to', 'had better' and 'supposed to'.

  • We use these verbs to give advice, express opinions, to give warnings or to criticise

  • someone.

  • These verbs are similar in meaning, but not exactly the same.

  • That means you need to understand exactly what each verb means to use them correctly

  • when you speak.

  • Let’s start with a basic introduction.

  • Part one: how to use 'should.'

  • Let’s look quickly at the different ways you can use 'should' in English.

  • For this lesson, well use 'should' as ourbaseverb.

  • Youll learn about the other verbs, like 'supposed to' or 'had better', by comparing

  • them to 'should'.

  • This means you need to have a good understanding of 'should.'

  • First, you can use 'should' to give advice:

  • "You should buy the green one.

  • It suits you."

  • I advise you to do this.

  • "You shouldn’t go to bed so late.

  • It’s bad for you."

  • This is my advice.

  • You can use 'should' to express your opinion.

  • "Everyone should see that film.

  • It’s amazing!"

  • I’m giving you my opinion about the film.

  • "The government should raise taxes on the rich."

  • This is my opinion, what I think should happen.

  • Obviously, advice and opinion are similar, and often theyre the same thing.

  • You can also use 'should'—often in the pastto criticise someone else.

  • "You shouldn’t have said that."

  • I think you did the wrong thing.

  • "He should have studied harder for his exams."

  • I don’t think he studied hard enough.

  • What connects all of these cases?

  • In all these uses of 'should', you use 'should' to express what you think is the best thing

  • to do.

  • If I say 'you should…', I mean 'I think it’s best if you…'

  • Now, let’s look at 'ought to.'

  • Part two: 'should' vs. 'ought to'.

  • In meaning, 'ought to' is exactly the same as 'should'.

  • If you can use 'should' in a sentence, you can also use 'ought to'.

  • For example, you can say:

  • "You should buy the green one."

  • Or: "You ought to buy the green one."

  • You can say:

  • "Everyone should see that film."

  • Or: "Everyone ought to see that film."

  • There’s no difference in meaning.

  • In both cases, the two sentences with 'should' and 'ought to' have the same meaning.

  • However, there are a couple of differences in how you use 'ought to'.

  • First, 'ought to' is more formal, more old-fashioned, and less common in modern spoken English.

  • That means you probably won’t use 'ought to' unless you are writing, or you want to

  • sound very formal.

  • Secondly, 'ought to' has a slightly different form.

  • Obviously, you need to add 'to'.

  • Also, the negative form is not generally contracted.

  • So, you can say:

  • "You shouldn’t have said that."

  • With 'should not', you can contract it to 'shouldn’t.'

  • However, with 'ought to', you need to use the full form.

  • "You ought not to have said that."

  • Again, with 'ought to' the sentence sounds very formal, and it’s unlikely that you’d

  • actually say this.

  • With 'should', you can make questions, like this:

  • "What time should I get there?"

  • With 'ought to', you can technically make questions, but they sound ridiculously formal:

  • "What time ought I to get there?"

  • This sounds really old-fashioned and unnatural, so I advise that you don’t use 'ought to'

  • in this way!

  • So, to review, 'ought to' has the same meaning as 'should', but a different form.

  • It’s also more formal and less common.

  • Let’s look at our next verb.

  • Part three: how to use 'supposed to.'

  • 'Supposed to' is similar to 'should', but there’s an important difference.

  • Look at two sentences:

  • "I should be there at 9:00."

  • "I’m supposed to be there at 9:00."

  • Can you see the difference in meaning?

  • If not, here’s a clue.

  • Both sentences mean that someone thinks it’s important for you to be there at 9:00.

  • The important question is: who thinks so?

  • The first sentence:

  • "I should be there at 9:00."

  • means that you think this is important.

  • It’s important for you personally to be there at 9:00.

  • The second sentence:

  • "I’m supposed to be there at 9:00."

  • means that someone else thinks it’s important for you to be there at 9:00.

  • You might not care, and using 'supposed to' suggests that you probably don’t.

  • For example, imagine your boss organizes a meeting for 9:00 one morning.

  • You know the meeting is going to be a waste of time.

  • People will talk about a load of pointless stuff, and the meeting will go on much longer

  • than it needs to.

  • However, your boss thinks it’s important that everyone attends.

  • So, you might say:

  • "I’m supposed to go to the meeting at 9:00."

  • In this case, the meeting is not important to you, but it is important to someone else

  • (your boss).

  • This is a good example of when you might use 'supposed to.'

  • Let’s do one more example.

  • Imagine were at a wedding, and I’m wearing jeans and an old T-shirt.

  • You say:

  • "You should have worn something more formal!"

  • "You were supposed to wear something more formal!"

  • Can you tell the difference now?

  • In the first sentence, with 'should', youre criticising me directly.

  • You think I look too scruffy, and that I made a mistake by dressing too informally.

  • In the second sentence, with 'supposed to', youre suggesting that you don’t personally

  • care about my appearance, but that other people might expect me to dress more formally.

  • There’s one more way to use 'supposed to'.

  • Look at an example:

  • "I was supposed to finish this essay yesterday."

  • Can you tell what this means?

  • It means that you didn’t finish your essay, and you don’t really want to finish your

  • essay.

  • This shows you another common way to use 'supposed to': use it to talk about things you don’t

  • want to do, or things which you aren’t planning to do.

  • For example:

  • "I shouldn’t come with you to the cinema.

  • I’m supposed to be revising."

  • I’m not revising, and I don’t want to.

  • In fact, maybe I will come to the cinema!

  • "I’m supposed to wear a tie, but hardly anyone in the office actually does."

  • I don’t wear a tie, and I don’t care about wearing one.

  • To review, 'supposed to' has a similar meaning to 'should', but while 'should' expresses

  • what you think is the right thing to do, 'supposed to' expresses what other people think is the

  • right thing to do.

  • Let’s move on!

  • Part four: how to use 'had better.'

  • Again, let’s start with a pair of sentences:

  • "You should finish everything today."

  • "You’d better finish everything today."

  • Can you tell the difference?

  • Here’s a clue: using 'had better' gives more information than just using 'should'.

  • What extra information am I communicating if I use 'had better' instead of 'should'?

  • 'Had better' expresses a warning or a threat.

  • Like 'should', youre giving advice or expressing your opinion about the right thing to do.

  • However, with 'had better', youre also saying that something bad will happen if the

  • other person doesn’t listen to you.

  • So, if I say:

  • "You should finish everything today."

  • using 'should' suggests that you have a choice.

  • I think it’s better if you finish everything today, but I don’t think it’s necessary.

  • But, if I say:

  • "You’d better finish everything today."

  • …I’m suggesting that you don’t really have a choice, because if you don’t do what

  • I say, something bad will happen.

  • With 'had better', you can even put the bad consequences into your sentence, like this:

  • "You’d better finish everything today, or the boss won’t be happy."

  • Let’s look at some more examples:

  • "You’d better leave now, or youll miss your train."

  • "He’d better apologise, or I’ll never talk to him again!"

  • Sometimes, the bad consequence is a kind of threat, like this:

  • "You’d better be on time, or you could lose your job."

  • However, it can just be a way to motivate the other person to do what you say:

  • "You’d better finish everything today, because you won’t have time tomorrow."

  • But, even if you don’t put the bad consequences into your sentence, the idea is still there.

  • If I say:

  • "You’d better be on time."

  • You would still understand that something bad will happen if youre not on time, even

  • though I’m not saying what that bad thing is.

  • Let’s do a review.

  • We use the verbs 'should', 'ought to', 'supposed to' and 'had better' to say what you or other

  • people think is the right thing to do.

  • That means these verbs express advice, opinion, criticism or (for 'had better'), warnings

  • or threats.

  • 'Should' and 'ought to' have the same meaning, although 'ought to' is much more formal and

  • is not commonly used in spoken English.

  • 'Supposed to' refers to what other people think is right, while 'should' expresses what

  • you think is right.

  • 'Had better' expresses the idea that something bad will happen if you don’t do what I say.

  • This is why 'had better' can also be used to make threats or give someone a warning.

  • That’s the end of the lesson.

  • I hope it was helpful!

  • Want more practice with this topic?

  • Check out the full version of the lesson on our website: Oxford Online English dot com.

  • Thanks for watching.

  • See you next time!

Hi, I’m Martin.

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A2 UK formal finish supposed sentence meaning opinion

English Modal Verbs - How to Use 'Should', 'Ought to', 'Supposed to' and 'Had Better'

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    pipus posted on 2017/03/16
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