The word should is commonly used when we want to give our opinion or make a suggestion. We’re saying that something is good or the right thing to do.
“It may rain this afternoon. You should take an umbrella.” = Taking an umbrella is a good idea – because if it rains you will need it
“Wow it’s already 1:00 am. I should go to bed.” = It’s a good idea if I go to bed now – because it’s late
Should is used to share our idea or opinion, so it’s common to use it with “I think…” or “I don’t think…”
“It may rain this afternoon. I think you should take an umbrella.”
“It’s after 9:00 pm, I don’t think I should drink any more coffee. It will be hard to sleep!”
If we ask someone’s opinion or idea we put should at the beginning of the sentence to make it a question.
“There will be many people coming to our party. Should we buy more wine?”
Pat: “I’m going to Sao Paulo Brazil in August, should I bring a jacket?”
Alex: “Yes. August is winter in Sao Paulo. The weather is still nice (compared to Canada’s winter!) but it can get cool at night.”
We can also ask:
“I’m going to Sao Paulo Brazil in August, do you think I should bring a jacket?”
* Remember should is only a suggestion, it is not as strong as must or have to.
“We must buy more wine, I don’t want to run out again like last time.” “We have to buy more wine, I don’t want to run out again like last time.”
“It’s almost 11:30, the pizza should be here by now.” = I expected the pizza to arrive before now.
“I saw a dog running loose in the park this morning. All dogs should be on a leash in a public park.” = It’s strange to see a dog running free in a public park.
“There is a mistake on this flyer. It should say ‘One Week Only.’ We need to fix this.”
“I ordered a new carpet 3 weeks ago, it should have arrived by now.” = 3 weeks is a long time to wait and my new carpet hasn’t arrived yet. It’s longer than I expected.
We sometimes use should to show that we expect something to happen.
Greg has worked for the company for a long time and he is a good employee. He should get a promotion soon. = I expect Greg to get a promotion because he has done a good job at the company for a long time.
“Adam’s train arrives at 3:00. The train station is small so it shouldn’t be hard to see him.” = I expect it will not be difficult to find at Adam at the train station because the station is small.
We can also use the negative shouldn’t when we give advice or make a suggestion.
“You shouldn’t eat that yogurt, it’s been in the fridge for 3 weeks.”
“Mike shouldn’t drink too much at the office party on Saturday. He might say something stupid to the boss! Remember last year?”
“Women who are pregnant shouldn’t smoke. Actually no one should smoke! It’s bad for your health!”
Shouldn’t plus have can be used to show regret. To show that you feel bad because of something you did. This is used for past actions.
“I shouldn’t have eaten so much pizza at dinner! Now I have a stomach ache.” = I regret eating so much pizza! It was a mistake and I feel bad now.
“Mitchel shouldn’t have bought that car. He used all his savings and now he can’t pay for university!” = Mitchel will regret spending all his savings on the car because now he has no money to pay his school tuition!
*We can also use should have to show the same feeling if we change the action in our sentence to show what was a good thing to do (in our opinion)