What Are Ought to and Had Better?
'Ought to' and 'had better' are both semi-modal verbs in English that are used to express obligation or advisability, but they have slightly different meanings and usage.
'Ought to' and 'had better' are both semi-modal verbs which have some of the characteristics of modals verbs but are not true modals.
Be careful that these verbs are called semi-modals only because of 'to' in 'ought to' and 'better' in 'had better'. They have all the other characteristics of modal verbs and are never used without the main verb in sentences. Study the following examples carefully:
Just like other modal verbs, this pair is used with the simple form of the verb in statements. Look at the examples below:
Here, ('d better) is the short form of 'had better'.
As you can see, 'ought' always comes with the particle 'to'.
These two can also be used in negative statements and questions. However, 'should' is more frequently used in such forms.
To form negatives with 'ought to', 'not' is added between 'ought' and 'to'. However, to form negatives with 'had better', not is added after the modal verb.
Pay attention to the examples:
As you can see, not comes between 'ought' and 'to.
In informal conversations 'oughtn't to' is used, but never in formal, written English.
The structure used for forming questions with "ought to" is:
The structure used for forming questions with "had better" is:
Pay attention to the examples:
Here, pay attention to where the subject and the modal verb are placed.
These two semi-modal verbs are used for:
- Giving recommendation and advice
- Expressing expectation
Another use of 'ought to' is to indicate likelihood or probability of an event in the present or near future. Pay attention to the example below:
With all this fog, it
Here the sentence shows that with such weather, it will probably rain.
Giving Recommendation and Advice
'Ought to' and 'had better' are semi-modal verbs that can be used to give recommendations or advice to someone. They are often used to indicate what is the best course of action in a particular situation, or to suggest a particular behavior or decision. 'Ought to' is often used to suggest a more moral or ethical obligation, while 'had better' is often used to suggest a more pragmatic or urgent need.
Study the following examples carefully:
Sometimes, 'ought to' is used to show obligation and the necessity of doing something. Remember not to use 'had better' in this context. Look at the example below:
As you can see, the sentence shows that it is a necessity for her to study.
'Ought to' and 'had better' can also be used to express expectations or desires for a particular outcome or result, either in the present or near future. In such cases, it is implied that if the desired result is not achieved, there will be negative consequences. Pay attention to the following examples:
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Shall and Should
'Shall' and 'Should' are like relatives, because 'Should' is the past tense of 'Shall', but they have different functions despite their similarities.
Must and Have to
'Have to' and 'must' have the same meaning and are used to express obligations. However, they are used in different situations and are not interchangeable.
Semi-modals are the subcategory of modal verbs. So it is good to learn the difference between modal verbs and semi-modal verbs to use them properly.
Dare and Need
'Dare' and 'need' have characteristics of both modal verbs and main verbs. Because of this, they are called semi-modals. In this lesson, we'll learn about them.
One of the functions of this expression is to talk about repeated actions in the past which we don't do in the present.