use "should be" in the subjunctive mood

Kenny Chang

Senior Member
Hello, everyone.

When I want to talk about something someone should do, but they didn't, or even something I should do but I didn't, I will use "should have been (or other past participles, but let's focus on be/been)." But I've seen some cases that "should be" was used instead of "should have been."

The first example: Top Gun: Maverick (2022)
Maverick: You think I took that missile, so you could be down here with me? You should be back on the carrier by now!
Rooster: I saved your life!
Maverick: I saved your life. That's the whole point.

→ Why not You should've been back on the carrier by now?

The second example: Kong: Skull Island (2017)
A Government Official: I'm told your unit is capable of handling inclement weather, Colonel. Why don't we leave it to Colonel Packard to break tie?
The Scientist: There's no way I'm getting on the helicopter.
(Then the scientist got on the copter, and later all the copters were smashed down by Kong.)
The Scientist: I should be sitting at a desk.

→ Why not I should've been sitting at a desk?

Thank you.
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    You should be back on the carrier by now!
    = That’s where you ought to be right now – not down here with me.
    It would be perfectly grammatical said the other way, but much less idiomatic in a dialogue of that kind.

    The same comment applies to the other example. They’re both live dialogue, about where someone ought to be even as they speak, not written reports speculating on what might have been expected.
    should've been works in your first example because it makes reference not only to where the guy should be but also to where he should have been already. In your second example, it doesn't convey quite the same thing. should be means instead of being part of a copter crash, he should be back safely, sitting at a desk. should've been means he should have been sitting at a desk instead of agreeing to go out in the copter.


    Senior Member
    In English, this should is not subjunctive mood.

    Both examples are about "now", expiclitly expressed in the first example, implied by the use of present tense (There's, I'm) in the second example.

    This part should be in present tense too:

    (Then the scientist gets on the copter, and later all the copters are smashed down by Kong.)