Special uses of should

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Should have + past participle

The structure should have + past participle can be used to talk about past events which did not happen.

This structure can also be used to talk about past events which may or may not have happened.

We can use should not have + past participle to refer to unwanted or unnecessary things that happened.

Should or Would?

In British English, both would and should can be used after first person pronouns (I and we). There is no difference in meaning.

Should after why

Should can be used after why to suggest surprise.

Should in subordinate clauses

Should can be used after certain adjectives expressing personal judgments and reactions. Examples are: odd, strange, sad, unfair etc.

This also happens after adjectives and nouns expressing the importance of an action. Examples are: necessary, important, essential, vital, eager etc.

Other cases

Should can used after so that, in order that, for fear that, in case and lest to show the purpose of an action.

Should in conditional clauses

Should is used in conditional clauses expressing possibilities, suppositions etc.

Note that if he should come indicates less likelihood of his coming than if he comes. The sentence means something like this: There is not much chance of his coming. But if he turns up, ask him to wait.

See also

Modal Auxiliary Verbs
May and Can: differences
Should: other uses
Must: uses
Must and have to: The Difference
Ought to
Had better
Should, Ought and Must: The difference
Primary auxiliaries