Learn English Grammar: Modals – “could” or “should”?

http://www.engvid.com/ Expectation is what we think could or should happen. But COULD and SHOULD are not the same! This important grammar lesson will teach you how to use these modals correctly, like a native English speaker. You SHOULD take the quiz to test yourself!


What’s up, Mr. E? We could be finished in 20 minutes, is that right? Oh, hi. James, from EngVid. Mr. E and I were talking about something. We’re having a little disagreement. Well, not a disagreement, but a conversation. I think this lesson could be about five, ten minutes. He said it should be 15. That’s a standard lesson length. What’s the difference? I don’t know. Why don’t we go to the board and find out?

If this looks familiar, it should be. This is the — “it should be”. See? This is the second lesson of modals that we’re doing. The first one we did was excuses. Yeah? You could’ve taken that lesson. If you haven’t, close this one down; watch that; and come back to this one. This one is actually on expectation. You know? Sometimes, people make excuses for not doing stuff. And other times, our expectations are what we think should happen in the future or could happen. This lesson will help you find out how native speakers use modals in a little different way than you’re used to or in the usual grammar setting. Okay? So let’s go to the board.

Once again, quickly we’ll go over it. What do modals do? Well, modals talk about obligations or possibilities, right? Possibility indicates future. Future. When we talk about what’s possible. An obligation is what you should do. So if you mix those together, that’s what an expectation is — is what is possible and what we think people or things should do or happen. Right? Your obligation or the obligation. But let’s take a look at this here. Let’s go to the board, okay?

First of all, when we talk about modals, which I’ve just done — you know, they express future possibility or obligations. Let’s look at the verb “to be” or the Be verb. The Be verb is about relative truth. And you’re probably going to say to me, “What the hell is relative truth?” Well, relative truth is somebody believes it’s true, and it depends where you sit. Right now, you’re looking at me, and I’m a tall guy. I’m skyscraper tall. I’m a giant. But only if you’re this tall. If you can’t see me, it’s because I’m a very tiny little man looking up at Big James. Understand? So relatively speaking, if you’re this big, anything this big is big. But anything this big, big, big, big, big, big is bigger than this. Understand? “Relative” means it depends on who is looking at it, right? If you’re 60, 40 is young. If you’re 40 years old, 20 is young. And if you’re 10, they’re all old, okay? Relative truth. Where do you sit?

So that’s what the Be verb means. So once we put a modal, okay, with the Be verb, it changes it. It gives it a different meaning. And what we want to look at now is what does that mean, this change, or how does it change it? And the video before, I mentioned, we noticed how we use it for excuses. In this one, we’re going to see how we think the future should be or could be, all right? Let’s go.

So what is — the modal should mean? Well, “should” is what we usually think — “should” is what is right, okay? We think it is right or probable, most likely to happen, or the correct or right thing to do. That’s why we use it as an advice modal. “You should go to school. You should eat your dinner. You should shut up.” Okay? We use it as advice. The last one is strong advice. Okay? And “could” is possible. What’s possible? You could be talking to me live if you come to Canada. Or you could be dreaming this whole thing. Press reset and see if that’s the case. But no. “Could” is what’s possible — possible to happen, okay?

Now, if you add this Be verb to “should”, we get this particular thing. See, here’s the Be verb because Be is believe, remember? Your perspective; what you believe. “I should + be — I believe this is right or probable.” “You should be a better student. I believe this. And I think it’s possible — probable or right. If you studied harder” — by saying “studied harder”, I think this is what is probable or the correct thing. Right?

But “possible”, which is similar, but not the same — let’s not forget — it’s what’s possible. “I believe this is possible.” “I believe we could be the greatest nation on Earth”, says Obama. He should’ve said something else. Notice I didn’t say “should be”; I said “shoulda”. Different. Anyway.

So here, we’ve got what is possible versus what is probable. It seems simple and easy, and it is. So why don’t we just use one? And there’s a reason for it. Remember, I said this one has “probable” and “right”? And that’s with “should”? Well, when people say “should” in English — like, “you should be” versus “could be” — what is actually we think is more accurate or more likely to happen.


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