Should In Subordinate Clauses

In formal British English, should is often used in that-clauses after certain nouns and adjectives. Examples of such nouns and adjectives are: important, necessary, vital, essential, eager, anxious, concerned and wish. As you may have noticed, most of them refer to the importance of an action.

  • It is important that she should be told.
  • I am anxious that nobody should be left out.
  • It is necessary that she should talk to the manager.
  • It is essential that she should finish her studies.

Certain verbs expressing similar ideas can also be followed by that-clauses with should.

  • She insisted that I should pay for the drinks.
  • The doctor recommended that I should stop smoking.

In American English, this use of should is unusual. Subjunctives may be used instead.

  • It is important that she be told.
  • It is necessary that she talk to the manager.
  • It is essential that she finish her studies.

Should in if-clauses

Should can be used in if-clauses. This structure is used to suggest that something is unlikely.

  • If you should see James, tell him that he owes me a drink.

Should after in case

After in case, we often use should + infinitive. This structure is used to add the meaning ‘by chance’.

  • I always take an umbrella in case it should rain.

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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