Suppose OR Supposed to? (25 real examples + pronunciation guide)

One of my private students here in Japan asked me:

“Which is correct – suppose to or supposed to?”

What a great question. (I love my students☺) Here is the quick answer:

Supposed to [with a D at the end] means expected to OR required to:
“I was supposed to take out the garbage this morning, but I forgot.” – I was expected to take out the garbage. (SUPPOSED) ✔
I was suppose to take out the garbage…” is incorrect. ✘
Suppose is a verb – Supposed is an adjective

Many of my English blog post topics come from real questions that my students asked me here in Japan. When I’m asked a great question, I then do a deeper dive into the subject to create a valuable English resource for ESL students around the world. Keep reading and let’s do a deep dive into this grammar together.

Supposed is an adjective. Adjectives will follow a form of the verb TO BE.

  • I AM supposed to play baseball tomorrow.

  • He WAS supposed to take out the garbage this morning, but he forgot.

  • They WERE supposed to meet us 20 minutes ago.

Suppose is the simple present tense of the verb TO SUPPOSE. We don’t use simple present tense verbs after the verb TO BE.

Read more examples and learn how to use the verb SUPPOSE in different verb tenses in this post.

Suppose to definition from Grammarly.com

Supposed to or Supposed to
This package was supposed to be delivered by 12:30.

Supposed to meaning

Supposed to shows that something is expected or required to happen. This phrase is an adjective (supposed) followed by the preposition to
Supposed to will always be followed by a verb.

  • I’m supposed to take out the garbage.

  • He was supposed to go to his friend’s wedding but he had to work on Saturday.

  • Why is my sister still awake? She’s supposed to be in bed by 8:00.

How do you use supposed to?

Supposed is an adjective so it will follow a form of the verb TO BE. The simple present tense of TO BE is – IS, AM, ARE.

Simple present tense can show us what happens often or regularly.

“I’M supposed to take out the garbage before I go to school every Wednesday morning.”
*I’m expected to take out the trash regularly. (each week on Wednesday)

“SHE’S supposed to be in bed by 8:00.”
*8:00 is her regular bedtime.

We can also use “supposed to” to talk about a single event or situation.

“IT’S supposed to rain on Friday.”
*Rain is expected to fall on Friday.

“This IS supposed to be the best French restaurant in town.”
*I expect this restaurant to be good, it has a good reputation (people like it).

The past tense [TO BE – WAS, WERE] tells us what was expected to happen (but didn’t happen) or required to be done (but was not done).

“He WAS supposed to go to his friend’s wedding but he had to work on Saturday.”
*He was expected to go but he didn’t.

“We WERE supposed to hand in our final class report yesterday. We’re late!”
*Our report was expected (by our teacher) yesterday.

*In English verb grammar you will often find that a verb’s past participle form is also used as an adjective.

present break
past broke
past participle broken

Past participle – Usain Bolt has broken the World record for the 100-meter dash!
– Has broken is the perfect tense. Has broken follows the subject of our sentence: Usain Bolt.

For a deeper study into the present perfect tense form take a look at my blog post: How to use the Present Perfect Tense (25 Real Examples + PDF)

Adjective – I need to buy a new watch, my old one is broken.
– Adjectives will follow a form of the verb TO BE. – IS broken.

Supposed is the past participle form of the verb suppose. Supposed is also used as an adjective.

For a deeper study into the past participle verb form take a look at my blog post: Use Past Participles The Right Way (25 examples + PDF list)

The pattern “Supposed to be” is used in English conversation to show a state or condition that we expect.

  • It’s 8:30, the coffee shop is supposed to be open already.

  • The computer was supposed to be on sale but it wasn’t.

  • Nancy is supposed to be here in 10 minutes. After that let’s go to the restaurant.

What does supposed mean?

The adjective supposed is used to show that you think that a claim, statement, or way of describing somebody/something is not true or correct, although it is generally believed to be

“The supposed experts on Wall Street say that this is not a problem.”
People describe them as experts but I doubt it. I don’t believe or trust them.

“Your dog ate your homework? When did this supposed event happen?”
I doubt that your dog really ate your homework.

supposed Dictionary link

Suppose verb meaning

The verb suppose has three meanings. 

① to think or believe that something is true or possible (based on the knowledge that you have)

  • Another family store has closed in my town. I suppose some popular coffee shop franchise will open in its place.

  • Finding a job in a big city isn’t as simple as you might suppose.

② used to make a statement, request or suggestion less direct or less strong

  • I could drive you there, I suppose.” (= but I don’t really want to)

  • A: “‘Can I just borrow your car?”
    B: “I suppose so.” 

③ to pretend that something is true; to imagine what would happen if something were true

  • Let’s suppose that Jenny is at the party. What will you say to her? (Let’s imagine that Jenny will be at the party.)

  • Suppose the Metal Man movie is sold out. What’s your second choice?

Suppose verb tenses

Simple present suppose

  • Prices will go up, I suppose.

Simple present Third Person singular supposes

  • The theory supposes the existence of life on other planets.

Simple past supposed

  • They supposed him to be dead – but what if he wasn’t?

    *Words like thought are more common than supposed in the past tense. “They thought he was dead…”

Continuous supposing

  • I am a sick man and my chances of a long life are few, but supposing I get better I shall need, in that case, someone to give me advice and encouragement for it is harder to live than to die. – Robert Louis Stevenson

*Supposing is very informal and not often used.

Past Participle  supposed

  • She had supposed him (to be) very rich.

    *This is also quite formal and rarely used in conversation.

suppose Dictionary link

Supposed to – pronunciation

Supposed to pronunciation

In natural English conversation, the phrase supposed to is spoken very quickly by native speakers. The sound will be more like spozeda.  The 3 syllables of SUH-POZED-TO are compressed into 2 syllables SPOZE-DA.

This pronunciation is so common that the voice typing tool on Google docs will write supposed to even when I pronounce spozeda.

Watch the video below to see how voice typing writes the correct spelling even when the pronunciation is quite different.

PIN it!

Supposed to or Supposed to

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