What Is Their Main Difference?
Modal Verb Should
Semi-modal Verb Ought to
'Ought to' is a semi-modal verb. Semi-modal verbs sometimes act like modal verbs and sometimes act like the main verb. For example:
Talking about Assumptions
We use 'should' and 'ought to' to talk about assumptions. The word assumption is derived from 'assume.' Assumptions are statements without any firm proof. For example:
Talking about Duty
We can use 'should' and 'ought to' to talk about obligations. In other words, we are talking about actions and events that their fulfillment is a duty. 'Ought to' gives a stronger sense of duty than 'should.' Take a look at these examples:
Giving and Asking for Advice
- 'Should' is used to give or ask for advice:
- 'Ought to' is used to give advice:
Talking about Expectations
We use 'should' and 'ought to' to talk about things that we expect to happen. For instance:
Negation and Question
Note that the negative form of 'ought to' is correct but it is extremely uncommon. You may encounter articles that consider it as incorrect.
Here are some examples:
To create questions with 'should,' we simply invert it. Watch:
To make questions with 'ought to,' we follow the pattern shown below:
Here are some examples for clarification:
We use 'should' and 'ought to' with the second type of conditionals that talks about hypothetical situations. These situations are imaginary with a low chance of occurrence. For example:
If you are sick, you
If you are sick, you
'Should' is commonly used in all types of texts while 'ought to' is extremely uncommon. 'Should' usually replaces 'ought to.'
'Should' is less formal than 'ought to.' 'Ought to' is used in formal texts while 'should' can be used in both formal and informal contexts.
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