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Understanding and Using Modal Verbs (#24), by Dennis Oliver

 

Modal Verbs #24:
Individual Modal Verbs

 

The English modal verbs are often challenging for learners
of English. This happens for many reasons, including both
grammar and meaning.

In this Hint, we'll look at should have.


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Should Have

 

The modal auxiliary should has a past form, should have,
which is used before the past participle of a verb. When this
past form is used,
should and have are very often contracted
to
should've:

should have been / should've been
should have done / should've done
should have worked / should've worked
should have stopped / should've stopped
etc.

This past form may also be negative (should not have +
the past participle); the full negative with
not is also
contracted to
shouldn't have ( + past participle) very often:

should not have been / shouldn't have been
should not have done / shouldn't have done
should not have worked / shouldn't have worked .
shouldnot have stopped / shouldn't have stopped
etc.

Should have can show either advisability or expectation,
but with a special "twist" in meaning:
should have shows
that something was advisable or expected, but
didn't
happen, while shouldn't have shows that something wasn't
advisable or expected, but it happened.

Examples:

Gloria should have studied last night.

(It was advisable for Gloria to have studied last night,
but she didn't.)

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Bob's plane should have arrived over an hour ago.

(We expected Bob's plane to arrive over an hour ago,
but it didn't arrive--and it still hasn't arrived.)

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Tanya shouldn't have said what she did.

(Although it wasn't advisable for Tanya to have said
what she said, she did it anyway.)

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You
shouldn't have had any problems with my computer.
It was working perfectly the last time I used it.

(Because my computer was working perfectly the last time
I used it, I didn't expect you to have any problems with it.
You did, however.)


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Special Notes:

1.  

In American English, should have and shouldn't
have
are used with all the personal pronouns (I, you,
he, she, it, we, they):

I should have remembered.
You should have seen Luis!
Luis shouldn't have acted so foolishly!
Jennifer shouldn't have worked when she was sick.
We should have left ten minutes ago!
They shouldn't have left when they did.

     
2.  

In fast, casual speech, should've is often "simplified"
so that it sounds something like "shoulda." This form
is common in speaking, but it is not appropriate for
most written work.

Similarly, shouldn't have is often "simplified" so that
It sounds something like "shouldena." Again, this form
is common in speaking, but not appropriate for most
written work.

     
3.   Native speakers sometimes write *should of or
*shouldn't of instead of should've and shouldn't
have
, but these forms are actually wrong. (The sounds
of
've and of are the same, and native speakers often
confuse them.)

 


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Next: more on modal verbs

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