Tuesday 23 March 2010

Usage: Modals Anatomy -- Part 3 (Shall & Should)

For those of you who have been trying my exercises in the Usage: Modal Anatomy -- Part 3 (Shall & Should) entry, I can feel that you are improving. Of course, some of you have better concepts than others, but that is normal. Don't feel inferior. I started off slowly and find them rather confusing too, but once you have practised more and have seen more examples, you will eventually feel what the modals are trying to tell you. My tip is you always try to look into the situation first, that is, read between the lines and think carefully, add a little deduction/induction into the examples and then everything will seem so much easier to understand.
Shall is never used in modern English in the second person.
It is used in the third person only for legal or formal undertakings and guarantees.

Legal English:
  1. The tenant shall hereafter be held responsible for all repairs.

Shall is always used in the first person singular and plural in the interrogative:

Offering (Mainly British English):
  1. Shall we dance?
  2. Shall I buy you lunch on the way back?

Making suggestion which is advisable to do/not to do (advisability):
  1. You should really see that film. It's awesome!
  2. You shouldn't buy that. It is too expensive!

Polite request with First Conditional (see Grammar: Zero and First Conditionals (Add-ons) for more details):
  1. I should be grateful if you would send me your budget estimate as soon as possible.

Asking for suggestion:
  1. Should I buy one more jacket?

Prediction that is expected to happen:
  1. It should be a fine day tomorrow! We should be able to play football.

Used as a Second Conditional ( see Grammar: Second Conditional for more details):
  1. Should you have any inquiries, please call the hotline.
  2. Should he arrive after supper, please show him to his room.
  3. If she should /were to leave Paul, I would bet it is because of Keith.

As a subjunctive (See Grammar: Subjunctive Mood for more details):
  1. I suggest the chairman be/should be asked to resign.
  2. I propose this case be/should be dealt with at once.

Modal Perfect:

You should have done. / You shouldn't have done.
I should have done. / I shouldn't have done.

Past actions & Impossible to change & Regret:
  1. I should have read the signs. Now she is so mad at me.
  2. I shouldn't have spoken so rudely to her.

Past actions & Impossible to change:
      Keith: You should've been more careful when handling that cup. Now it is broken.
      Michael: Well, you shouldn't have kept those words to yourself till I broke it.

Deserved an action in the past, but was not carried out (usually with passive voice):
  1. She should have been awarded the Oscar Award ages time ago. (passive voice)
  2. He should have been given the chance to explain himself. (passive voice)

Try to explain the meanings of the following sentences in details, you can make your predictions as you wish:
(Leave comments for me to check)
  1. "Should've seen it coming, should've read the signs, anyway, I guess it's over." -- Westlife, Fool Again.
  2. You really shouldn't have shouted at that dog.
  3. Shall we?
  4. Should he call, please let me know.
  5. You should listen to your mum.
  6. I should have given my client a call first. He's not in his office now.
  7. He should have been in jail.


A Proficiency Course in English -- F.V.Bywater
Practical English Usage Third Ed. -- Michael Swan