Insert the appropriate modal verb in the spaces provided. When there is a verb in brackets, put it into the correct form.
You must come to the opera tonight. You'll love it.
can express strong advice. Should
and ought to
are possible instead of must
, but the advice is not so strong. Compare these sentences:
You mustn't smoke. You've got lung cancer.
(strong advice or prohibition)
You shouldn't/oughtn't to smoke. It's not good for your health.
You __________ take one of these pills before going to bed.
We __________ give our son a birthday party.
You __________ go on a diet: you're putting on weight.
We __________ set up some scarecrows to prevent birds from eating our crops.
We __________ buy her a rag doll for her birthday. It'll make her happy.
28 Revision exercise.
She __________ have been adamant in her refusal, but she is always willing to help.
"__________ you clear the dishes away, darling?"
They __________ have paid him off, otherwise he would have squealed on them to the police.
Someone __________ have slept in this bed recently, as it is unmade. We made it the last time we came here.
The government (not) __________ undercut spending power. (I am totally against it.)
"__________ you tell me if there is a cashpoint near here?"
"I'm afraid there isn't one near here."
The stable is in ruins. We __________ repair it straight away.
"The FBI knows everything."
"It (not) __________ have found everything out!"
"Our telephone __________ have been bugged."
Department stores (not) __________ undercut small shops. I don't think this is just.
You __________ grasp the nettle and tell her that you are going out with another girl.
You (not) __________ panic. There's nothing to be afraid of. Everything's under control.
We (not) __________ afford further delay; we __________ act at once.
From now on, you __________ work to earn your own living. I think it's about time you found a job, got married and settled down.
Only two people __________ enter that place without being seen, namely you two. So you have no choice.
We __________ rove the country next summer. Everything will depend on the money we __________ get by then.
You (not) __________ wash your hands of the whole matter. You're heavily involved in it.
"You (not) __________ have prepared anything for dinner. We're going out to dinner with the Kings."
"You __________ have told me earlier!"
She (not) __________ make anything for lunch, as we were going out to a restaurant.
"__________ I ask Sophie over to my birthday party?"
"Yes, you must, love."
You (not) __________ play with matches, darling. You __________ burn yourself.
Guests (not) __________ take the key with them when they go out. It __________ be left at the reception.
"__________ they will play a dirty trick on us?"
"I hope not."
"You (not) __________ bring this stray dog home, sweetie. It's got fleas all over."
"Please, mummy, let me have it."
She (not) __________ study a lot to pass an exam. She's incredibly brainy. As a matter of fact, she's doing two degree courses at the same time.
They __________ give him the boot because he was becoming a real problem for them.
My finals were very hard, but I __________ pass them.
You might/could study. You've got an exam tomorrow.
suggest that you are not doing the proper thing. Should
(or ought to
) would also be possible here, but it would sound more like a bit of advice than a critical remark.
You __________ do the chores instead of lying on the settee watching TV all day.
You __________ take exercise; you need to lose weight.
You __________ practise for your next perfomance. You're still a little green.
They __________ scold their child for mocking at people. He is running wild.
You __________ at least be frank with me!
There's nobody in. We should/ought to have called to tell them we were coming.
We shouldn't/oughtn't to have given him the money.
The first sentence means that it was silly not to give them a ring; the second, that it was foolish to give them the money. Both should (not) + have + a past participle
and ought (not) to + have + a past participle
are used to regret something we, or other people, did or did not do.
I (not) __________ have nodded off in his class, but I hadn't got a wink of sleep the previous night, and felt very tired.
You (not) __________ have driven so fast. You could have had an accident.
"What the devil are you doing here? You __________ be at home. It's almost midnight.
You (not) __________ have hatched a plot to murder the ambassador: it was a crazy idea.
"What in thunder did you give her?"
"You stupid fool! You (not) __________ have given her a beer. She's only a child."
I ought to give up smoking, but I love it, so I don't think I will.
carries the idea of objectiveness; and should
, of subjectiveness. The above sentence means that this would be the right thing to do, that is, it does not depend on my opinion. Still, this difference is not normally very important, and either of them is usually possible.
I don't understand. He __________ be walking on thin air, as you don't win the lottery every day.
We (not) __________ have lost to Mexico by four goals: we were much better than them.
I __________ do these exercises every morning, but I detest exercising, so I never do them.
Your feelings (not) __________ have been pent up for so long.
You __________ be more optimistic about the situation. Things will look up.
What should/shall I wear?
(Could you advise me what to wear?)
Should we buy her a present?
(Do you think it would be a good thing to buy her a present?)
Shall we buy her a present?
(How about buying her a present?)
How should I know that?
(How the blazes do you expect me to know that?)
I don't see (any reason) why you should think I'm lazy.
(I think there is no reason to believe that.)
I should/would say he'll come.
(This is my opinion.)
Whom should I come across on my last holidays, but my parents-in-law!
(I would never have expected to find them there.)
Why __________ I tell you that?
We went to a nudist beach thinking nobody knew us, and who __________ come to say hullo to us, but our neighbours.
I __________ think so too.
I can't think why he __________ have lied to me.
What __________ we do now?
He should/ought to have arrived here an hour ago.
(He generally arrives at seven o'clock, and it is already eight o'clock. He will be here any minute now, I think.)
He should/ought to be here any minute now.
(He always gets home at six o'clock, and it is ten past already, so I expect him to be here any minute now.)
They __________ be Stella's place by now. They arranged to meet there at half past nine, and it is ten o'clock.
They __________ have got there by now. Why don't you ring them up now?
He __________ have finished his work by now; I'll go and see if he has.
She __________ come back in less than no time.
She __________ be ready in a jiffy.
34 Revision exercise.
"We __________ arrange a big party on Saturday evening. If so, would you like to come?."
"We (not) __________ tell you for sure now, as we __________ go skiing next weekend. If we stay here and you decide to celebrate your party, we would be very pleased to attend."
"You __________ say grace tonight!" (a suggestion)
"Me! I'm a confirmed atheist!"
You __________ learn from your mistakes, otherwise you'll never become a wise person. (a piece of advice)
You (not) __________ leave anything unsaid. (= You had better tell us everything.)
She (not) __________ have indicated right, or I'd have noticed it.
This suit __________ be ironed inside out. (= We advise you to iron this suit inside out.)
He father told her that he (not) __________ give her a ride on his shoulders, as they ached terribly.
They (not) __________ be telling the truth! They __________ be kidding us!
You __________ be right, but if you don't ask you don't get.
You (not) __________ play with your catapult. It's very dangerous.
I have no money, so I __________ make a reversed-charge call.
"I told her to get out of my way, as I didn't have x-ray vision, and she got angry with me."
"You (not) __________ have said that to her. She's very sensitive, you know."
"Well, I know, but she was just in front of the television, and I (not) __________ watch anything."
"Anyhow, there are many ways to tell people things."
"OK! OK! I won't do it again."
What in heaven's name did you tell them? You __________ have kept your mouth shut!
They __________ only do two things, viz wait or continue.
They agreed to take the second alternative.
He __________ be here in no time at all. He just went round the corner.
He said that they (not) __________ have nicked my scooter, since they had been with him the whole afternoon.
If you have no head for heights, you (not) __________ go climbing tomorrow.
Why __________ I help you? You've never done anything for me.
You (not) __________ overtake now. There's an unbroken line.
I reckon you've gone too far. You (not) __________ have shouted at me.
"__________ we shack up or get married?"
"Well, this is up to you."
You (not) __________ pay me back now. You __________ do it tomorrow.
"__________ I go to school today, mum? I'm not feeling very well."
"No, you needn't, darling."
We __________ go jogging every morning, but we always get up late; so we don't have time to do it.
There __________ be mice in the outbuilding. Some corn-cobs have been nibbled.
You (not) __________ invest in that firm, as your account would be overdrawn by ten thousand pounds.
It is annoying that he should never include me on the list of players.
It is annoying that he never includes me on the list of players.
It is vital that he should sign this document right away.
It is vital that he sign this document right away.
It is vital for him to sign this document right away.
It is vital that he signs this document right away.
It was better that she should take a bus than walk.
It was better that she take a bus than walk.
It was better for her to take a bus than (to) walk.
In the first sentence "annoying" is an adjective that expresses how we feel about something. In this case, both should
(formal) or a present or a past tense (It was annoying that he never included me on the lists of players)
are possible. As regards adjectives like "vital", they call for immediate action (as we think that it is necessary to do something about it); they can also indicate that we consider something the rightest or wisest thing to do ("better"). Here, we have three alternatives: to use should
, to omit it (subjunctive
) or to use an infinitive construction. For
may be replaced with to
when they are not followed by an infinitive: Water is vital/essential to/for life
. Adjectives such as "vital" and "essential" may also take a present or past tense: It was vital/essential that they kept everything under control
It is a shame
that you __________ arrive always late to your appointments.
It's essential that any proof __________ be destroyed straight away.
It's strange that she __________ say that.
It is advisable that she ___________ be here by noon.
I'm surprised that you __________ like soap operas/It's surprising that you __________ like soap operas.
They suggested that he should spend the night there.
They insisted that she should stay with them.
I have just recommended that he should drink less.
They decided that they should tell everything to the authorities concerned.
A verb + that + a subject + should
indicates that it would be a sensible or necessary thing to do.
The lieutenant ordered that the sergeant __________ train his men every day.
Mr Perkins advised that I __________ read more often.
He proposed that we __________ clear the dishes away while he did the washing-up.
We urged that he __________ study for a degree.
He demanded that the meeting __________ be postponed, as not all the members were present.
If you should need further details, do not hesitate to contact us. In case you should have a breakdown, telephone this number.
He did not dare to go out lest/in case her pursuer should find her.
He didn't tell her so that/in order that she should not ask any questions about it.
He had a crib in case he __________ need it in the examination.
He didn't blab to the press lest they __________ take reprisals.
If it __________ hail tomorrow, please take my flowerpots in.
__________ you require any of our latest models, please let us know.
He brought some balloons home so that his children __________ play with them.
38 Revision exercise.
You __________ look on the bright side of things. (a piece of advice)
The weather forecaster said this morning that it __________ snow in some nothern parts of the country.
"He __________ have slunk away when we were not looking! Let's go and look for him."
"I guess you're right!"
Now you (not) __________ unsay what you have just said. A deal is a deal.
"I __________ take a laxative, as I've got awful constipation."
"It's not surprising that you __________ be constipated, you never eat fibre or fruit."
__________ I put the rubbish bin out now, mum? I'm finishing my homework. (not) __________ I do it later?
You __________ do as your heart tells you. (a bit of advice)
"We've brought a tray of cakes."
"You __________ have brought anything. We bought plenty of sweets this morning, but thanks anyway."
You __________ do it this way. (This is the way I want it.)
Why __________ it run aground? I think everything will go according to plan.
It's important that she __________ be kept at bay. She __________ ruin our plans.
He didn't go there lest he __________ be discovered.
This __________ be subject to some changes. (possibility)
You __________ learn this off right away. (= I reckon that it is imperative that you __________ learn this off right away.)
"Why __________ we start afresh?"
"Because we need to forget everything."
She __________ have been strangled with a scarf. (= There is enough evidence to believe this.)
I __________ burn the midnight oil if I want to finish it by tomorrow morning.
"Your hair's sticking up. You __________ comb it this minute."
She __________ be fortysomething, as I'm forty and she is older than me.
You (not) __________ jump the queue. You __________ join it as everybody else.
You (not) __________ stroke our neighbour's cat. It
__________ scratch you, as it __________ be vicious at times.
It's ridiculous that you __________ think that I have a love affair with my secretary.
The colonel commanded that the fifth company __________ go on manoeuvres.
This meat __________ have gone off; it's giving off a bad smell.
He said that he (not) __________ get her out of his mind. (= It was impossible for him to get her out of his mind.)
The king directed that the armed forces __________ be put on full alert in case a war __________ break out.
has a similar meaning: We'd better leave for London very early in the morning. There's a long way to go
. See unit 6, part 4, section 10.
See section 17 in this unit.
The perfect simple and progressive infinitives refer to the past; the simple and progressive infinitives, to the present or future: You should be helping your mother
. (= You are not doing the proper thing.)
See unit 9, section 51.
This structure is not very common in British English.
See the previous footnote.
Notice that the subjunctive does not have -s
or a past form. Observe the subjunctive of the verb be
: It is vital that he (should) be here before the sun sets
Note that "shame" is a noun, not an adjective.
Other alternatives to the examples given in this section:
They suggested that he spent the night there.
They suggested that he spend the night there.
(Observe the use of the subjunctive here. See the previous section.)
They suggested his spending the night there.
(If we remove the possessive adjective, we would probably include the speaker as well: They suggested that they should spend the night there/They suggested spending the night there
They insisted that she stayed with them.
They insisted that she stay with them.
They insisted on/upon her staying with them.
I have just recommended that he drink less.
I have just recommended his drinking less.
(I have just said that he should drink less.)
I have just recommended him to drink less.
(I have just told him to drink less.)
They decided to tell everything to the authorities concerned.
here conveys the idea that something is not very probable. Should
can also precede the subject, and if
is, then, removed: Should you need further details, do not hesitate to contact us
. This is slightly more formal than the construction with if
. See also unit 24
, sections 11
is normally followed by a present or a past tense, but should
is an alternative to this when we want to suggest that something is not very likely. See units 24 (section 16)
and 27 (section 7)
sometimes occurs instead of should
: He did not dare to go out lest her pursuer might find her
. It is also possible to omit the modal verb (subjunctive) or to use a present or past tense: He did not dare to go out lest her pursuer (might/ should) find/found her
. See unit 27, section 7.
sometimes occurs after so that
or in order that
, although other modal verbs are often used instead: He didn't tell her so that/in order that she would not/could not ask any questions
is also possible in very formal contexts: The government approved a new law so that/in order that we might have a better quality of life
. If the verb in the main clause is in a present or future tense, we use may, can
: I'll ring them up so that/in order that they may/can/will know when my train arrives
. See unit 27, section 5.