auxiliary verb

ˈshu̇d How to pronounce should (audio)

past tense of shall

used in auxiliary function to express condition
if he should leave his father, his father would dieGenesis 44:22 (Revised Standard Version)
used in auxiliary function to express obligation, propriety, or expediency
'tis commanded I should do soWilliam Shakespeare
this is as it should beH. L. Savage
you should brush your teeth after each meal
used in auxiliary function to express futurity from a point of view in the past
realized that she should have to do most of her farm work before sunriseEllen Glasgow
used in auxiliary function to express what is probable or expected
with an early start, they should be here by noon
used in auxiliary function to express a request in a polite manner or to soften direct statement
I should suggest that a guide … is the first essentialL. D. Reddick

Examples of should in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Miami will try to remain optimistic, knowing the Celtics should be somewhat fatigued after playing in Orlando on Monday. Gary Pearson | Catena Media, oregonlive, 24 Jan. 2023 Lawmaker says Ticketmaster merger should ‘be on the table’ Lawmakers repeatedly questioned the US government’s past handling of the Live Nation merger with Ticketmaster. Samantha Murphy Kelly, CNN, 24 Jan. 2023 Walczak noted that a wealth tax would be especially problematic for California, joking that the people most excited about such a law should be people in Texas, where some high-profile Californians have relocated in recent years. Aaron Kliegman, Fox News, 24 Jan. 2023 And by early Thursday morning, Freitag added, the worst of it should be over — until, of course, the next storm. Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press, 24 Jan. 2023 But greater odds mean a more outstanding payday, which, ultimately, is what betting should be about. Lock in the code CLEVELANDCOM here and enjoy your $1,000 first bet offer after signing up for a BetMGM Ohio account. cleveland, 24 Jan. 2023 John Luther, Washington County's director of emergency services, said the timing of the storm should be helpful, with most people able to get home Tuesday afternoon and stay off the roads if necessary. Tom Sissom, Arkansas Online, 24 Jan. 2023 Low-impact bras should be stretchy and comfortable—ideal for activities like yoga and lounging around. Amy Eisinger, M.a., SELF, 24 Jan. 2023 Germany’s inaction should not be an excuse for ours. Robert Zubrin, National Review, 24 Jan. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'should.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English sholde, from Old English sceolde owed, was obliged to, ought to

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of should was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near should

Cite this Entry

“Should.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


shəd How to pronounce should (audio)

past of shall

: ought to
you should study harder
they should be here soon
: happen to
if you should see them, say hello for me
used to express what is probable or expected
they should be here by now
used as a more polite or less assured form of shall
should I turn out the lights?

More from Merriam-Webster on should

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