Difference between Should and Ought to | Should and Ought to

Have you ever faced a situation where you can’t figure out whether you’ve to use ‘should’ or ‘ought to’? Most of us in our life have faced this kind of situation. So how to make sure when to use ‘ought to’ or ‘should’? This article will make sure that you understand when to use these words and how to use them in the correct context. Through this article, you will learn whether there’s any difference between these terms or not.

The English Language is considered to be confusing by many as there are many words that people think to be the same, but they have completely different meanings. Since those words appear to be the same in many cases, they are used in the wrong context. To avoid such confusion, this article will discuss the following points of differences between ‘should’ and ‘ought to’.

  • Table Summarising the Difference between Should and Ought to
  • The Difference between Should and Ought to- Meaning
  • Example of Should and Ought to
  • Should and Ought to – Conclusion

Table Summarising the Difference between Should and Ought to

Ought to

Should

Meaning

The word ought to is used to express something probable or opinions.

The word should is used to show what one thinks is best for the concerned subject.

Usage

It is used as a Verb.

It is used as a Verb.

Example

He ought to be there.

You should visit your parents more often.

This table shows that ‘should’ and ‘ought to’ can’t be treated as synonymous but can be used interchangeably. Students often get confused between these words, and this table will help them understand the context they are using it in. Once they get the difference between these words, they can apply them correctly.

The Difference between Should and Ought to – Meaning

If one wants any specific difference between the two terms ‘ought to’ and ‘should’, there’s a high chance that one might end up having the exact meaning of both. However, these words aren’t synonymous but can be used interchangeably in many cases in the correct context. The term ‘should’ is the past form of the verb ‘shall’. ‘Should’ is used in sentences where permission is sought or to give advice/suggestion that one thinks is right according to them. The word ‘should’ also show probability. Whereas the word ‘ought to’ is used to instil a more formal tone in the sentence. ‘Ought to’ is used to express something probable or opinions or informing about necessary duties. Students often confuse these words and think them to be synonymous, but they aren’t. But both these words can be used interchangeably if one understands the meaning of the sentence they’re using it in.

Example of Should and Ought to

The following example will help students understand the terms ‘ought to’ and ‘should’.

Ought to – i) Ross ought to be more punctual (opinion)

ii) It ought to be snowing by this month’s end (prediction/probability)

iii) You ought to respect the flag of your country (duties)

Should – i) Should I go to the prom tomorrow? (permission)

ii) You should leave early for the office to avoid traffic jams. (suggestion/idea best for the situation)

iii) The shop should be opened by now (probability/prediction)

Once students understand the difference between the words ‘ought to’ and ‘should’, they can easily apply them in the proper context.

Should and Ought to – Conclusion

In conclusion, the words ‘ought to’ and ‘should’ are not synonymous but can be used interchangeably if one understands how to use them correctly in any sentence. This article points out the difference between ‘ought to’ and ‘should’ so that it becomes easy for students to put them in sentences. BYJU’S offers various articles on many such ‘differences between two words’ that people often get confused with.

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