Should In Past Tense: 7 Facts You Should Know


We can use “Should’ as an ‘Auxiliary Verb’ in all three forms of “Tense”. Here, we are going to explore the use of “should” in “Past Tense.

We use “should” in the past tense to show an expression that mainly aims to regret our activity or to criticize the activity of any other person in past.

Now, let us go through facts regarding ‘Should’ in past tense.

Can the auxiliary verb “should” be used in past tense?

Use of ‘should’ in ‘Present Tense’, ‘Past Tense’, and ‘Future Tense’ is different. Let us see whether we can use should in past tense or not.

The auxiliary verb “should” can certainly be used in past tense but it must be used along with the main verb “have”.

Example – I should have gone to see the library before writing my next article.

Explanation –

The auxiliary verb “should” is in use to show ‘regret’ of the speaker that she or he might have visit the library before writing article.

How the auxiliary verb “should” is used in past tense?

The word “Should” can only be used as an auxiliary verb in any type of sentence. Now, we are going to learn the formation of the sentence in past tense with “should”.

The word “should” does not refer to any particular tense form by itself. One must use the word ‘have’ in past tense along with the main verb ‘have’ and the past participle form of ‘regular verb’.

Example – You should have met with your best friend and resolved the problem between you.

Explanation –

Here, the auxiliary verb “should” is in use along with the main verb ‘have’ and the past participle form of the regular verb ‘meet’ to form this respective past tense sentence.

When the auxiliary verb “should” is used in past tense?

The auxiliary verb “should” must be in use to show some specific aspects in any type of sentence according to their tense form. The word “should” can be used in the past tense to mark the below-listed situations.

AspectExample
To show ‘regret’I should have listened to your advice to avoid that pathetic situation.
To mark ‘appropriateness’We should have taken Mathematics classes from Mr. Roy to learn basic facts about Mathematics.
To give a ‘suggestion’You should have gone to pay a visit to your mother as your mother always waits eagerly for you.
To provide ‘recommendation’You should have chosen the Arts stream instead of the Science stream to develop your inner skill.
To mark ‘remorse’I should have taken my career seriously for the well-being of none other than myself.
Five Examples of “Should” in Past Tense

Explanation –

The auxiliary verb “should” is in use to show ‘remorse’ of the speaker to avoid a pathetic situation that already happened.

Why the auxiliary verb “should” is used in past tense?

“Should” is the most common modal auxiliary verb which we use in our daily conversation to refer to various types of emotions to not only ourselves but also towards others. Let us see the reason.

Most of the time, the modal auxiliary verb “should” is in use to refer to various aspects, like; recommendations, suggestions, advice, etc. The aspect “regret” or “remorse” can be described easily with the use of the modal auxiliary verb “should” in the past tense.

Example – I should have brought an umbrella to secure myself in this rainy season.

Explanation –

The speaker is regretting that she or he forgot to bring the umbrella. The speaker is expressing this emotion with the help of the modal verb ‘should’.

Formula and structure of should used in past tense –

Any type of sentence formation in a particular tense form follows a certain pattern. We need to learn the structure of using “should” in the past tense.

StructureExample
Subject + should+ have (main verb)+ past participle form of regular verb + remaining wordsYou should have listened to my advice before taking any decision about your career.
Structure of should used in past tense

Explanation – 

Here, the pronoun “You” is the subject followed by the auxiliary verb “should” and then the main verb “have”. The past participle form of the regular verb ‘listen’ is also there to support the sentence.

Examples of should used in past tense –

The use of modal auxiliary verbs in different tense forms is quite tricky. We can go through various uses of “should” in the past tense in the below-listed examples and explanations.

Serial NumberExampleExplanation
1It was late yesterday; I should have taken a cab to go home.Here, the speaker is mourning over a mistake that she or he had done. The auxiliary verb ‘should’ is in use along with the main verb ‘have’ and the past participle form of the regular verb ‘take’.
2I should have eaten a healthy breakfast on regular basis to make me healthy.Here, the speaker is mourning over a mistake that she or he had done. The auxiliary verb ‘should’ is in use along with the main verb ‘have’ and the past participle form of the regular verb ‘eat’.
3You should have spoken to me before deciding on the tour location.Here, the speaker is suggesting an activity that the addressed person could have done in past. The auxiliary verb ‘should’ is in use along with the main verb ‘have’ and the past participle form of the regular verb ‘speak’
4You should have taken the general meeting seriously.Here, the speaker is suggesting an activity that the addressed person could have done in past. The auxiliary verb ‘should’ is in use along with the main verb ‘have’ and the past participle form of the regular verb ‘take’.
5It is raining heavily; we should not have decided to drive the car without any experienced driver.Here, the speaker is suggesting an activity that they could have done in past. The auxiliary verb ‘should’ is in use along with the main verb ‘have’ and the past participle form of the regular verb ‘decide’.
6You should have hidden your bank card number while using the ATM card at the counter.Here, the speaker is suggesting an activity that the addressed person could have done in past. The auxiliary verb ‘should’ is in use along with the main verb ‘have’ and the past participle form of the regular verb ‘hide’.
7I should have written neatly to avoid any type of monotony.Here, the speaker is regretting an activity that she or he had done in the past. The auxiliary verb ‘should’ is in use along with the main verb ‘have’ and the past participle form of the regular verb ‘write’.
8You should have eaten wisely as your stomach is upset since last week.Here, the speaker is providing a suggestion to the addressed person. The auxiliary verb ‘should’ is in use along with the main verb ‘have’ and the past participle form of the regular verb ‘eat’.
9I should have taken the chance to get admission to the college.Here, the speaker is regretting an activity that she or he had done in the past. The auxiliary verb ‘should’ is in use along with the main verb ‘have’ and the past participle form of the regular verb ‘take’.
10We should have gone to the market to store some raw vegetables.Here, the speaker is regretting an activity that they could have done in the past. The auxiliary verb ‘should’ is in use along with the main verb ‘have’ and the past participle form of the regular verb ‘go’.
11He should not have gone to the sea side in this stormy weather.Here, the speaker is regretting about an activity which a male person had done in the past. The auxiliary verb ‘should’ is in use along with the main verb ‘have’ and past participle form of regular verb ‘go’.
Eleven Examples of “Should” in Past Tense

Conclusion –

Use of past participle form of ‘regular verb’ is as important as using the main verb ‘have’ in a sentence while using the word ‘should’ in the past tense.

Arpita Bose Roy

Hey! I am Arpita Bose Roy. My qualifications are M.A. in English with  B. Ed. in both general education and special education. I have 2 years of experience as a "language analyst" at IIT Kharagpur and 4 years of experience as an "Academic Content Developer" at IIT Kharagpur. Currently, I am working as an academic writer at Lambdageeks. Let's connect through LinkedIn-https://www.linkedin.com/mwlite/in/arpita-bose-roy-0aa32553

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