Would or should?

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  • paulio

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    They are very different. would is an auxilary used in the conditional mode. It therefore doesn't have a meaning except to make the verb that follows it conditional in meaning.

    Should is about feeling obliged to do something.

    There are a couple of cases where you might be able to use either, but don't worry about them.


    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    Use "should" for suggestion or obligation.
    "We should go to the beach"
    "You should apologize"
    "I shouldn't eat so much chocolate"

    Use "would" for conditionals.
    "I would go to the beach if I were you"
    "I would apologize if I thought I was wrong"
    or sometimes polite requests.
    "Would you open the door please?"
    "Would you mind opening the door?"


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hello 1000xx, and welcome to WordReference.

    how we can distinguish clearly when we must use?. Thanks
    I'm not sure that we can distinguish this clearly - in a way that is easy to explain. There are a large number of threads here that discuss the use of should, many about should and would. Have a look at these:
    if should/if would + should/ought to



    would vs should

    should or would?

    There are many more on the topic of should.

    If you use the WordReference dictionary you will find them.

    Dictionary entry for should

    Dictionary entry for would


    Senior Member
    US English(Boston/NY)
    But don't you British people sometimes say things on the order of, "If I were you, I should go to the beach!"

    I always have trouble explaining that kind of thing to my students, because we never use should that way in AE.


    Senior Member
    US English(Boston/NY)
    Thanks, Matching Mole! Right now, I tell them I'm only comfortable with should as a modal indicating advice/mild obligation in the present and regret in the past. But they ask about this British use, which they've learned in the past, so now I can tell them something about it, and can also tell them it's formal and not for every day. Now, if only I knew something about bedsits..lorries...cookers...whinging....kips.... :))


    English English
    But don't you British people sometimes say things on the order of, "If I were you, I should go to the beach!"
    My mother says things like that a lot, and she isn’t posh at all! I don't think she'd use that specific sentence, but she might say, for example:

    "I shouldn’t put that glass on the floor."
    To mean "I think it is inadvisable for you to put that glass on the floor".

    It doesn't sound particularly formal to me.


    Senior Member
    "Should" can also be conditional. "Should you shout again you will have to leave the class".
    You may use it after "if" - "If I should see you again..."

    And as someone else mentioned "should" can be polite and not only in BE: "I should prefer if you didn't call tomorrow"

    I think we should stick up for "should"


    Senior Member
    US English(Boston/NY)
    Yes, Marty10001, that usage is exactly what I meant. I'm not so sure though that it isn't just BE -- I really wouldn't say I should prefer... I would say, IF you shout again you'll have to leave the class, if I ever see you again... and I'd rather you didn't call tomorrow.

    I recognize of course what is meant with all these uses of should, but don't know what to tell students about how and when to use it.


    New Member
    argentina, argentinien
    Thanks to everybody. I´m always speaking about BE.Probably I´ll take the advice of liliput in order to use in practicals terms, and avoid start to look all the slights details and cases.
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