#185: 5 Expert Ways to Use ‘Should’ in English [Advanced English Grammar]

Aug 19, 2020 | Grammar, Modal Verbs

‘Should’ is a powerful little word in English. It can be used to offer advice & recommendations, express regret, share expectations, and more. 

So many useful purposes for daily communication! And with this lesson, I want to help you be an expert on how to use should in English.

Here’s why:

Recently, I shared a lesson on how to used advanced structures to talk about your hopes for the future without using the word hope.

One way to do that is with ‘I should think that…”

It was FANTASTIC to see all the responses and examples you and the entire Confident English Community shared. 

Today you’re going to continue building your knowledge of how to expertly use that word ‘should’ in English. 

If you think back to some of your early English lessons, you probably remember learning about modals: words like could, would, should, might, may, can, etc.

Very rarely do lessons spent the appropriate amount of time with each one to truly understand how the word is used.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I love to choose a specific topic and dive deep so you have the know-how to confidently use advanced English vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structures.

In fact, I have a similar lesson on 5 Expert Ways to Use Could in English

But for today, let’s talk about how to use ‘should’ for:

  • Giving advice
  • Offering recommendations
  • Talking about obligations (or duty)
  • Sharing probability and expectations
  • Expressing regrets or admonishments 

5 Expert Ways to Use Should in English

Example Sentences Using ‘Should’ in English


  • When you’re in Washington D.C., you should definitely visit The National Art Gallery. (recommendation)
  • On weekends, if you can, you should focus more on your family and hobbies rather than on work. (advice)
  • I really should get started with work at 7:00 AM tomorrow. I have so much to do. (obligation)
  • Let’s see, it’s 3:00 PM. By now, their plane should have taken off. (probability/expectation)
  • They should pass meaningful health care legislation. (what is ideal)
  • He should have gone to the doctor sooner. (regret)


Advanced English Grammar Structures for Should in the Present, Past, and Future


Modal verbs can be used for the present, past, and future but they are irregular. They don’t behave like regular verbs such as want/wanted/will want or complete/completed/will complete.

Let’s look at the correct structures so you can get them right every time.

Present Form

should + base form of verb (Positive and negative)

  • They should be home by now. (A present expectation/probability)
  • Generally speaking, everyone should eat more vegetables and fresh fruits. (A statement of truth/advice) 
  • She should not leave her job until she has another offer. (recommendation/advice)

Past Form

should have + past participle

(The past participle is the third form of the verb. It’s easy with regular verbs because it’s just -ed — wanted, called, completed, managed, cooked — but do you remember memorizing those verb charts with eat/ate/eaten, drink/drank/drunk, drive/drove/driven? That third verb is the past participle.)

  • He should not have waited so long to visit the doctor. Or he should have gone to the doctor sooner. (admonishment)
  • I know we should have gone to The National Art Gallary when we were in D.C. last year but we ran out of time. (regret)
  • She should have spent more time considering the pros and cons before making a decision. (admonishment/regret)

Future Form

should + base form of verb

(Like the present form.)

  • We should hear from them next week. (expectation)
  • Next time you’re in D.C., you should make time for The National Art Gallary. (recommendation/advice)

Now it’s your turn to give this a try.

To practice using should, share with me:

  1. One recommendation. In your opinion, what should someone definitely do or make time for when visiting your home city or country?
  2. One expectation. Think about 2021. What is one expectation or probability you can think of? What should happen?
  3. One regret or admonishment. Is there something that you or a friend should have done differently when younger?

Did you notice that in my challenge you should use all three time tenses here? A present, future, and past structure? 😉

As always, the best place to share is in the comments section below. I look forward to seeing your examples. 




Get the Confidence to Say What You Want in English

Follow my 3-step solution to speak English with clarity, fluency, and freedom so you can say what you want with confidence.

You'll also get my Confident English lessons delivered by email every Wednesday and occasional information about available courses. You can unsubscribe any time.

More Like This

Better Ways to Say Yes, No, Maybe, and I Can’t in English

Better Ways to Say Yes, No, Maybe, and I Can’t in English

At its best, saying “maybe” to an invitation is awkward. It might sound like you don’t want to go. And at its worst, it can sound rude. Are there better ways to say yes, no, maybe, or I can’t in English? Absolutely. Here’s how to accept and decline invitations + requests in English.

5 Smart Questions to Ask in an English Job Interview

5 Smart Questions to Ask in an English Job Interview

It’s the last question in your job interview in English and you hear: Do you have any questions for me? What should you say? Is it okay to ask a question in a job interview? Find out exactly what you should do plus 5 smart questions to ask.

How to Disagree in English Politely

How to Disagree in English Politely

Want to say “I disagree” without creating tension in the conversation? Master the art of disagreement in this lesson on, “How to Disagree in English Politely.”

I'd love your thoughts and questions! Please share your comment.x

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This