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Historically it was the past form of the verb "Shall" and both of the forms expressed obligation. But in present day English they have developed different meanings and are treated as 2 different verbs.

"Should" followed by the non perfect infinitive may be used with the reference to the present and future and is not changed in the reported speech. For example:

You should be more careful.

I told him that he should be more careful.

This modal verb is used only in two meanings.

Imperative Suppositional
  • Moral obligation or duty in all kinds of sentences/about the present/.

All the students should hand in the papers today.

  • Probability only with the reference to the present of future

The guests should not come early.


  • In the negative sentences "Should" denotes negative advice.

He should not be so impatient!

  • In the set expression "Why should..?"

Why should I go there?


  • "Should" + Perfect Infinitive indicates that something desirable has not been done. It denotes criticism only in the affirmative sentences.

You should have put more sugar in my coffee. It's not sweet



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