Grammar Tips (문법 팁): Must, should and ought to

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Do you want to keep on improving your English speaking skills? (영어 말하기 스킬을 늘리고 싶나요?)  Check out this post by Oxford Dictionaries for some tips on how to use ‘must, should and ought to ’. (이 비디오를 보세요.)



We use must in three main ways:

• to talk about something that has to be done because it’s compulsory or obligatory (that is, it’s absolutely necessary to obey a rule, law, order, or instruction):

Online stores must give a cooling-off period of seven working days.
She was told that she must not discuss the case with third parties, including her MP.

or because it’s very important:

To calm public opinion, police must quickly arrest the culprits and solve this case.
I must get back to work: a deadline approaches.

• to express the view that something is highly likely because it’s a logical conclusion based on something else that the speaker knows, or it’s the normal thing to expect:

Our measurements show that exactly the opposite must be the case.
Her mega hairdo must have taken several cans of hairspray to achieve.

• to say to someone that you strongly recommend or advise something because it’s a good idea:

If you go to Barcelona, you must see the cathedral.
We get on well and keep saying we must meet up for lunch sometime.



We use ought in three main ways:

• to express the view that something is the right thing to do, because it’s morally correct, polite, or someone’s duty:

You ought to admit that you made a mistake.
They ought not to be allowed to damage property without paying compensation.

• to predict that something is fairly likely or expected, based on normal circumstances or logic:

Our long-delayed mail is on the way from France and ought to arrive today.
The weather oughtn’t to be cold in May.

• to offer or ask for advice or recommendations:

If you haven’t read the book then you ought to see the movie.
What ought to be done to improve things?




Here are the three main meanings of should:

• to talk about what we think is the right or correct thing to do, especially from the point of view of duty or appropriateness:

All employees should be provided with a proper job description.
Children shouldn’t be allowed to watch too much TV.

• to give or ask for advice or suggestions:

I told Kathy she should try to get some rest.
Can you recommend any exercises, or should I see a doctor?

• to predict that something will probably happen or is expected to be the case, based on logic or a typical situation:

My sister’s on her way, she should be here soon.
By next month I should have enough money to buy a car.



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