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should

[shoo d] /ʃʊd/
auxiliary verb
1.
simple past tense of shall.
2.
(used to express condition):
Were he to arrive, I should be pleased.
3.
must; ought (used to indicate duty, propriety, or expediency):
You should not do that.
4.
would (used to make a statement less direct or blunt):
I should think you would apologize.
Origin
Middle English sholde, Old English sc(e)olde; see shall
Can be confused
could, should, would (see usage note at the current entry)
Synonyms
3. See must1 .
Usage note
Rules similar to those for choosing between shall and will have long been advanced for should and would, but again the rules have had little effect on usage. In most constructions, would is the auxiliary chosen regardless of the person of the subject: If our allies would support the move, we would abandon any claim to sovereignty. You would be surprised at the complexity of the directions.
Because the main function of should in modern American English is to express duty, necessity, etc. (You should get your flu shot before winter comes), its use for other purposes, as to form a subjunctive, can produce ambiguity, at least initially: I should get my flu shot if I were you. Furthermore, should seems an affectation to many Americans when used in certain constructions quite common in British English: Had I been informed, I should (American would) have called immediately. I should (American would) really prefer a different arrangement. As with shall and will, most educated native speakers of American English do not follow the textbook rule in making a choice between should and would. See also shall.

shall

[shal; unstressed shuh l] /ʃæl; unstressed ʃəl/
auxiliary verb, present singular 1st person shall, 2nd shall or (Archaic) shalt, 3rd shall, present plural shall; past singular 1st person should, 2nd should or (Archaic) shouldst or shouldest, 3rd should, past plural should; imperative, infinitive, and participles lacking.
1.
plan to, intend to, or expect to:
I shall go later.
2.
will have to, is determined to, or definitely will:
You shall do it. He shall do it.
3.
(in laws, directives, etc.) must; is or are obliged to:
The meetings of the council shall be public.
4.
(used interrogatively in questions, often in invitations):
Shall we go?
Origin
before 900; Middle English shal, Old English sceal; cognate with Old Saxon skal, Old High German scal, Old Norse skal; compare German soll, Dutch zal
Can be confused
can, may, shall, will (see usage note at can; see usage note at the current entry; see synonym study at will)
Usage note
The traditional rule of usage guides dates from the 17th century and says that to denote future time shall is used in the first person (I shall leave. We shall go) and will in all other persons (You will be there, won't you? He will drive us to the airport. They will not be at the meeting). The rule continues that to express determination, will is used in the first person (We will win the battle) and shall in the other two persons (You shall not bully us. They shall not pass). Whether this rule was ever widely observed is doubtful. Today, will is used overwhelmingly in all three persons and in all types of speech and writing both for the simple future and to express determination. Shall has some use in all persons, chiefly in formal writing or speaking, to express determination: I shall return. We shall overcome. Shall also occurs in the language of laws and directives: All visitors shall observe posted regulations. Most educated native users of American English do not follow the textbook rule in making a choice between shall and will. See also should.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for should
  • People who have allergies to dust mites should take some steps to protect themselves.
  • These should be relevant to the motion, the speakers' statements or the observations of featured guests.
  • Boat schedules peak in spring and summer, but you should be able to book a trip in any month.
  • The system should be installed after the lawn area has been graded.
  • The kids should see this, and so should the parents.
  • The choice should be based on merit, not geography.
  • These should offer employment for a few people who move to the town as well as for others who commute.
  • We should not dignify it as more than that until it is.
  • Select the fish with your nose: it should smell ocean-fresh or be odorless.
  • However, if this really is the case, they should be doing more practical things.
British Dictionary definitions for should

should

/ʃʊd/
verb
1.
the past tense of shall: used as an auxiliary verb to indicate that an action is considered by the speaker to be obligatory (you should go) or to form the subjunctive mood with I or we (I should like to see you; if I should be late, go without me) See also shall
Usage note
Should has, as its most common meaning in modern English, the sense ought as in I should go to the graduation, but I don't see how I can. However, the older sense of the subjunctive of shall is often used with I or we to indicate a more polite form than would: I should like to go, but I can't. In much speech and writing, should has been replaced by would in contexts of this kind, but it remains in formal English when a conditional subjunctive is used: should he choose to remain, he would be granted asylum
Word Origin
Old English sceold; see shall

shall

/ʃæl; unstressed ʃəl/
verb (past) should takes an infinitive without to or an implied infinitive
1.
esp with I or we as subject. used as an auxiliary to make the future tense we shall see you tomorrow Compare will1 (sense 1)
2.
with you, he, she, it, they, or a noun as subject
  1. used as an auxiliary to indicate determination on the part of the speaker, as in issuing a threat you shall pay for this!
  2. used as an auxiliary to indicate compulsion, now esp in official documents the Tenant shall return the keys to the Landlord
  3. used as an auxiliary to indicate certainty or inevitability our day shall come
3.
(with any noun or pronoun as subject, esp in conditional clauses or clauses expressing doubt) used as an auxiliary to indicate nonspecific futurity I don't think I shall ever see her again, he doubts whether he shall be in tomorrow
Usage note
The usual rule given for the use of shall and will is that where the meaning is one of simple futurity, shall is used for the first person of the verb and will for the second and third: I shall go tomorrow; they will be there now. Where the meaning involves command, obligation, or determination, the positions are reversed: it shall be done; I will definitely go. However, shall has come to be largely neglected in favour of will, which has become the commonest form of the future in all three persons
Word Origin
Old English sceal; related to Old Norse skal, Old High German scal, Dutch zal
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for should

c.1200, from Old English sceolde, past tense of sceal (see shall). Preserves the original notion of "obligation" that has all but dropped from shall.

shall

v.

Old English sceal, Northumbrian scule "I owe/he owes, will have to, ought to, must" (infinitive sculan, past tense sceolde), a common Germanic preterite-present verb (along with can, may, will), from Proto-Germanic *skal- (cf. Old Saxon sculan, Old Frisian skil, Old Norse and Swedish skola, Middle Dutch sullen, Old High German solan, German sollen, Gothic skulan "to owe, be under obligation;" related via past tense form to Old English scyld "guilt," German Schuld "guilt, debt;" also Old Norse Skuld, name of one of the Norns), from PIE root *skel- (2) "to be under an obligation."

Ground sense of the Germanic word probably is "I owe," hence "I ought." The sense shifted in Middle English from a notion of "obligation" to include "futurity." Its past tense form has become should (q.v.). Cognates outside Germanic are Lithuanian skeleti "to be guilty," skilti "to get into debt;" Old Prussian skallisnan "duty," skellants "guilty."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with should
In addition to the idiom beginning with should also see: (should) get one's head examined
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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