vendredi 15 août 2014

Top Tips Grammar: Mild obligation and advice

Main points

*You use ‘should’ and ‘ought’ to talk about mild obligation.
*You use ‘should have’ and ‘ought to have’ to say that there was a mild obligation to do something in the past, but it was not done.
*You can also use ‘had better’ to talk about mild obligation.

 

a) You can use ‘should’ and ‘ought’ to talk about a mild obligation to do something. When you use ‘should and ‘ought’, you are saying that the feeling of obligation is not as strong as when you use ‘must’.
‘Should’ and ‘ought’ are very common in spoken English. ‘Should’ is followed by the base form of a verb, but ‘ought’ is followed by a ‘to’- infinitive.
When you want to say that there is a mild obligation not to do something, you use ‘should not’, ‘shouldn’t’, ‘ought not’, or ‘oughtn’t’.

 

b) You use ‘should’ and ought’ in three main ways:
*when you are talking about was is a good thing to do, or the right thing to do.

- We should send her a postcard.
- We shouldn’t spend all the money.
- He ought to come more often.
- You ought not to see him again.

*When you are trying to advise someone about what to do or what not to do.

- You should claim your pension 3-4 months before you retire.
- You shouldn’t use a detergent.
- You ought to get a new TV.
- You oughtn’t to marry him.

*When you are giving or asking for an opinion about a situation. You often use ‘I think’, ‘I don’t think’, or ‘Do you think’ to start the sentence.

- I think that we should be paid more.
- I don’t think we ought to grumble.
- Do you think he ought not to go?
- What do you think we should do?

 

c) You use ‘should have’ or ‘ought to have’ and a past participle to say that there was a mild obligation to do something in the past, but that it was not done. For example, if you say ‘I should have given him the money yesterday’, you mean that you had a mild obligation to give him the money yesterday, but you did not give it to him.

- I should have finished my drink and gone home.
- You should have realised that he was joking.
- We ought to have stayed in tonight.
- They ought to have taken a taxi.

You use ‘should not have’ or ‘ought not to have’ and a past participle to say that it was important not to do something in the past, but that it was done. For example, if you say ‘I should not have left the door open’, you mean that it was important that you did not leave the door open, but you did leave it open.

- I should not have said that.
- You shouldn’t have given him the money.
- They ought not to have told him.
- She oughtn’t to have sold the ring.

 

d) You use ‘had better’ followed by a base form to indicate mild obligation to do something in a particular situation. You also use ‘had better’ when giving advice or when giving you opinion about something. The negative is ‘had better not’.

- I think I had better show this to you now.
- You’d better go tomorrow.
- I’d better not look at this.

Remember that the correct for is always ‘had better’ (not ‘have better’). You don’t use ‘had better’ to talk about mild obligation in the past, even though it looks like a past form.

 

 

 

 

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Top Tips Abz Ingles: Part A    -    Part B
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See also:

Words related to Failure to Cooperate Irregular Verbs list
Common Phrasal Verbs Common Slangs
Common misspellings Regular vs Irregular Verbs
Common Errors Frequently confused words
Common Slangs Lista de Términos Gramaticales
Common Clichés Common Prepositions

 

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