Should vs. Must

Difference Between Should and Must

Should and Must are modal auxiliary verbs in English and these are to be used correctly and we must realize the difference between them. Both these verbs are different from each other in form and meanings.

‘Must’ is commonly used to express certainty. For example ‘I must go to the market tomorrow.’ Here, ‘must’ is used to express certainty about going to the market.

‘Must’ is also used to indicate strong opinion or advice to others or to oneself. For example:

1. I really must start exercising.

2. You must be on time.

In the sentences given above you see that ‘must’ is used to give an advice or instruction.

‘Must’ can also be used in questions. In such scenarios it is used for asking about the intentions of listener.

1. Must I note down everything?

2. Why must you not go to meet him?

Here, you intend to ask about the intentions of someone who is the listener of the sentences.

‘Should’ is used in following cases:

  • As the past tense of ‘shall’. For example, ‘he said that I should meet him before eleven.’
  • Used after ‘if’ for suggesting possibility or opportunity ‘If you should meet Julie, convey my regards to her.’ This means if you meet Julie in that case you can convey my regards to her.
  • To express obligation and responsibility. For example ‘You should pay him on time.’

Thus, you must use these two modal auxiliary verbs with precision.


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