everything I should do and everything I shouldn't have done

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jasonlu2000

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi

I would like to know if I can mix "should have" and "should" in the following sentence:

"Last night I did everything I should do and everything I shouldn't have done."
 
  • jasonlu2000

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    In what context would you say this?
    I came up with a situation like this:

    A: So what happened between you and your girlfriend last night?

    B: Well, I just wanted to impress her so I took her to a fancy restaurant, and she was very happy. But then I accidentally knocked over the wine glass and spilled the win everywhere.
    I did everything I should do and everything I shouldn't have done last night.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It really doesn’t make a lot of sense. ;) And why switch from should do to shouldn’t have done?

    A more suitable statement in that scenario would seem to be:


    Last night I did everything I was meant to do, but also one thing I wasn’t!
     

    jasonlu2000

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    It really doesn’t make a lot of sense. ;) And why switch from should do to shouldn’t have done?

    A more suitable statement in that scenario would seem to be:


    Last night I did everything I was meant to do, but also one thing I wasn’t!
    What I think is like this:


    What I should do: Took him to a fancy restaurant.
    What I shouldn't have done: Knocked over the wine glass.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    What I should do implies what is required of you in the future, not the past.

    And everything is not really what you mean.
     

    jasonlu2000

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    What I should do implies what is required of you in the future, not the past.

    And everything is not really what you mean.
    So "should" cannot be used in the past tense sentence?

    For example: I already told him everything I should tell him.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    That’s just another example of the same thing. It’s not about should, which has no tense. It’s about whether you use that modal verb with the present infinitive (denoting the future) or the past infinitive.

    What should I do / tell him?
    — You should tell him the truth. (You haven’t done so yet.)

    What should I have done / have told him?
    — You should have told him the truth. (We don’t know if you did or didn’t.)
     

    jasonlu2000

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    That’s just another example of the same thing. It’s not about should, which has no tense. It’s about whether you use that modal verb with the present infinitive (denoting the future) or the past infinitive.

    What should I do / tell him?
    — You should tell him the truth. (You haven’t done so yet.)

    What should I have done / have told him?
    — You should have told him the truth. (We don’t know if you did or didn’t.)
    Can I use: I did everything I should do and everything I shouldn’t.
     

    jasonlu2000

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    It would make more sense as "I did everything I should have done and one thing I shouldn't (have done)."
    wouldn’t that mean that you didnt do something in the first place and then did it later?

    “I finally did something I should have done a long time ago”
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You still seem to be missing the point. Adding “finally” and “a long time ago” changes the situation you’re describing, not the grammar.

    I finally did something I should have done a long time ago :tick:
    I finally did something I should have done a long time ago :tick:
    I did something I should do :confused::thumbsdown:
     

    jasonlu2000

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    You still seem to be missing the point. Adding “finally” and “a long time ago” changes the situation you’re describing, not the grammar.

    I finally did something I should have done a long time ago :tick:
    I finally did something I should have done a long time ago :tick:
    I did something I should do :confused::thumbsdown:
    So in this case, should have done can be used in a situation where you indeed did something you were supposed to do at that time?

    But on the other hand, I also see "I did everything I could" very often. Shouldn't it be "I did everything I could have"?
     
    Last edited:

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    No, it shouldn’t. The modal verbs could and should work quite differently from each other, as do can (denoting ability or opportunity) and shall (denoting the future, and mainly only used in the 1st person), of which they are the past-tense versions.
     

    jasonlu2000

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    No, it shouldn’t. The modal verbs could and should work quite differently from each other, as do can (denoting ability or opportunity) and shall (denoting the future, and mainly only used in the 1st person), of which they are the past-tense versions.
    Thank you for keeping replying. I really appreciate that. So, according to what you have said, "could" can be used independently in a sentence that describes the past situations, while "should" can only be used with "have" in a past scenario.
     

    jasonlu2000

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    No, it shouldn’t. The modal verbs could and should work quite differently from each other, as do can (denoting ability or opportunity) and shall (denoting the future, and mainly only used in the 1st person), of which they are the past-tense versions.
    After thinking about this, I think it can be explained in this way as follows:


    I did everything I could do to defend my family. (You did what you were able to do or allowed to do at that time.)

    I did everything I could have done to defend my family. (You looked back to that moment and thought that you had done everything possible.)

    I did everything I should do to defend my family. (You already knew what you were obligated to do at that time. There were some measures that people expected you to take when things happened. There might have been an SOP list for that kind of situation.)

    I did everything I should have done to defend my family. (You didn’t know what you must do at that time. But some time later you look back to that moment, and then you thought you had already done everything you were supposed to do. )
     
    Last edited:

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I can’t relate to any of that. You seem to be fabricating context that’s not even implicit in those statements. This is a mistake learners of English as a foreign language make all the time.

    As I said tried to explain above, you can use a modal verb with the bare infinitive (could/would/should etc. do) to denote a present or future necessity or possibility, or with the perfect infinitive (could/would/should etc. have done) when referring to something that is no longer a necessity or possibility because it’s in the past.
     
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