Modal Verbs: How to Use Should and Must Correctly Using the 3 C's


Be careful when you tell your reader it is a must. The word isn’t as simple as you think. Use it politely and make sure it suits your sentences’ actions like your book cover.

Can you adopt should to remind your friend to read for the forth coming examination or is it a must? 


 Should and must are modal verbs in English grammar and they mainly serve as helping verbs to main verbs in sentences. As such, it is impossible to see both stand alone in a sentence. look at the following examples.

  •          Mrs okafor should be elected as the new women leader.
  •         All SS3 students must appear before the principal tomorrow.
  •        We should try to meet by 4:00pm.

In each of the sentences above, did you notice the verbs that succeed should and must? Elected, appear and try--They are the main and inevitable verbs in sentences. Without these kinds of verb, should and must cannot erect meaning and maintain a meaningful stand in any sentence.

Still doubting or surprised you haven’t noticed this? No qualms. All you have to do is to start using a pricky eyes and an active ear to study and listen respectively should in case, you come across the two. If your research resonates with my view, don’t forget my thumbs up. 

Should and must are similar but work differently in terms of

1.       Tendency

2.       Consequence  

3.       Emphasis

However, we will look through the difference of the two using these three C(s)

 Difference between should and must using tendency.

The word should is use for advice, desire and recommendation. If one uses should in a sentence, it denote that you wish someone could perform an action. For instance:

  •          You should read your books as early as possible.
  •          You all should accompany Tiwa to her house.

When one uses should for an action in a sentence, the tendency that the second person would perform the desired action is not guaranteed and at the same time discarded. Reason being that it is an advice.

In sentence 1, it can be deciphered that, the personae gives an advice to the second person telling him or her to always read early. This is an advice and a wish from the part of the personae that could be fulfilled or ignored by the second person. This is simply because the force tied around the action is not strong and as thus, the tendency that the action will be executed cannot be guaranteed.

Must is use to compel someone to perform an action. If you support an action with this verb in your sentences, the tendency that the action would be strictly performed is guaranteed. For instance:

  •          You must pay your dues before the due time
  •          All freshers must complete their registration before 24th of August, 2020

Must in the above sentences means that it is imperative for second person (sentence 1) to pay his dues before the end time and freshers to complete their registration before 24th of August.

 Briefly, the force within should is not as strong as must. Therefore, the tendency that the listener would perform the action is low.

Difference between should and must using consequence

Should, when use in a sentence is not as compelling and brutal as must. In the example:

  •          You all should accompany Tiwa to her house.

 Accompanying Tiwa to her house is the personae’s desire, what he wishes could happen. If these people in question refuse to accompany Tiwa, there may be consequence but it wouldn’t be in-depth as when it is a must for them to follow Tiwa. The consequence as of the time should is used could be, Tiwa getting bored on her way home. Normal and could be dealt with right?

When one uses must in the sentence, the sentence’s atmosphere changes. Let’s take a look at this.

  •          You all must accompany Tiwa to her house.

The moment must is being used in a sentence, tables will turn from simple to difficult. This is because the sentence is weaved with compulsory actions and unfavorable consequences. In this case, since should has been changed to must in the above sentence, it means it is compulsory to accompany Tiwa to her house. Failure to that could be getting kidnapped or raped on the way.

Note that the consequence of should cannot be compared to must. Thus, be careful when you use must. Use it in your sentences when the action is an obligation and you are certain that failure to perform the action may lead to unfavorable consequences. More examples using must are:

  •          You must not violate the school rules.
  •          You must be certain that cars have stopped moving from your left and right before you cross to the other side.   

At this point, think of the consequence of not performing this action. Guess you just got the rule. Thumbs up.

Difference between should and must using emphasis.  

Should and must support actions in sentences using unconnected methods.  The two has a force that controls them. But one is higher than the other and this is where they get disconnected.

Should requires that it is advisable to perform an action. If you perform the action, it is for your own good and if you do not, it is not a crime. Again, if you perform the action, you might get a reward for allowing someone’s wish or desire come true and if you don’t, it can’t inflame harm towards you.

Should, when use in sentence denotes actions that are tied with a light rope. In other words, should is not a strong word since it does not have a strong emphasis towards actions.  For example:

  •          Tayo should come and greet me tomorrow. (If Tayo comes, I will be so elated if otherwise, it does not really count.)
  •          You should buy biscuit for me while coming. (If you don’t buy it, it is okay.)

Must, when use in sentences denotes actions that one cannot escape. Such as attending a meeting, paying a due. The word cannot be used anyhow because of the strong emphasis on it. If you ask to do something, it is compulsory you do it. Failure to do it may lead to savage conditions. For instance:

·         You must be at the conference before 4pm in order to arrange the chairs.

In this sentence, must is a stronger word that is said with a strong emphasis. Failure to be at the conference before 4pm, could lead to unwanted circumstances.

Choosing the appropriate word between should and must for your sentences could be easy with the 3 c(s), tendency, consequence and emphasis. However, note that your sentences actions determine the word that could be used between should and must.

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