[ shood ]
/ ʃʊd /

auxiliary verb

simple past tense of shall.
(used to express condition): Were he to arrive, I should be pleased.
must; ought (used to indicate duty, propriety, or expediency): You should not do that.
would (used to make a statement less direct or blunt): I should think you would apologize.



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Origin of should

Middle English sholde, Old English sc(e)olde; see shall

synonym study for should

3. See must1.

words often confused with should

Rules similar to those for choosing between shall and will have long been advanced for should and would, but again the rules have had little effect on usage. In most constructions, would is the auxiliary chosen regardless of the person of the subject: If our allies would support the move, we would abandon any claim to sovereignty. You would be surprised at the complexity of the directions.
Because the main function of should in modern American English is to express duty, necessity, etc. ( You should get your flu shot before winter comes ), 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 when used in certain constructions quite common in British English: Had I been informed, I should (American would ) have called immediately. I should (American would ) really prefer a different arrangement. As with shall and will, most educated native speakers of American English do not follow the textbook rule in making a choice between should and would. See also shall.


should , would (see confusables note at the current entry) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for should

/ (ʃʊd) /


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

Word Origin for should

Old English sceold; see shall

usage for should

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 & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Idioms and Phrases with should


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.