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Using the expression ‘ought to’ in English – ( Modal Auxiliary Verb)

‘Ought to’ is a modal auxiliary verb and its meaning changes depending on how it is used in a sentence. In this lesson you will learn the usage of this not so commonly use English expression – Ought to.

In this lesson, you are going to take a look at the various uses of ‘ought to’.

  • Example: You ought to exercise more. ( a strong recommendation/advice)
  • Example: She ought to receive the package tonight. (Probability)
  • Example: James ought to get the promotion. (something expected to happen)

In the past, it is used with ‘have + a past participle verb’. It means something that should have happened, didn’t happen in the past.

  • Example: You ought to have helped him. (you should have helped him, but you didn’t do your duty)
  • Example: I ought to have studied medicine not physics. (I regret the past action of studying physics)

In the negative, ‘ought not’ is used without ‘to’.

  • Example: You ought not smoke so much.
  • Example: They ought not carry so much cash while travelling.

In the interrogative, ‘ought’ is placed before the subject and ‘to’ is not used. Generally, ‘should’ is more commonly used.

  • Example: Ought she call the police? (‘Should she call the police?’ is a more common way of asking)
  • Example: Ought we complete this now? (should is more commonly used in place of ‘ought’)

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