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English definition of “should”

should

modal verb uk   strong /ʃʊd/ weak /ʃəd/ us  

should modal verb (DUTY)

A2 used to say or ask what is the correct or best thing to do: If you're annoyed with him, you should tell him. You should change trains at Peterborough if you're going to Newcastle. "Should I apologize to him?" "Yes, I think you should." You should be ashamed of yourselves. This computer isn't working as it should. There should be an investigation into the cause of the disaster. He said that I should see a doctor. I should have written to her but I haven't had time. It's very kind of you, but you really shouldn't have bothered. Where should (= do you suggest that) we meet tonight? It's rather cold in here. Should I (= do you want me to) turn the heating on?

should modal verb (PROBABLE)

B1 used to show when something is likely or expected: My dry cleaning should be ready this afternoon. You should find this guidebook helpful. I wonder what's happened to Annie. She should be (= it was expected that she would be) here by now. "Could you have the report ready by Friday?" "Yes, I should think so (= it is likely that it will be ready)." This should be good (= this is likely to be interesting or amusing).

should modal verb (POSSIBILITY)

formal used when referring to a possible event in the future: If anyone should ask for me, I'll be in the manager's office. Should you (= if you) ever need anything, please don't hesitate to contact me. used after 'that' and adjectives or nouns that show an opinion or feeling: It's odd that she should think I would want to see her again. It's so unfair that she should have died so young. used after "that" to suggest that a situation possibly exists or might come into existence: We agree that the money should be paid tomorrow. formal used after "so that" and "in order that" to show purpose: He took his umbrella so that he shouldn't get wet. formal used after "for fear that", "in case", and "lest": He took his umbrella in case it should rain.

should modal verb (REASON)

B2 used after 'why' when giving or asking the reason for something: Why should anyone want to eat something so horrible? Why shouldn't she buy it if she can afford it?

should modal verb (WOULD)

mainly UK formal used instead of 'would' when the subject is 'I' or 'we': I should like a whisky before I go to bed. I shouldn't expect you to pay, of course.

should modal verb (SURPRISE)

used to express surprise in sentences that are in the form of questions: I was just getting off the bus when who should I see but my old school friend Pat!

should modal verb (ADVISE)

UK used after 'I' when giving advice: I shouldn't worry about it if I were you. I shouldn't (= I advise you not to) let it worry you.
Grammar
(Definition of should from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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