Modal verbs with the meaning "should", "ought to": 应该, 应当, 应 and 该
Modal verbs (情态动词) can be used to express possibility, desire, ability, and necessity. Modal verbs cannot appear without a predicate and can only appear in predicate phrases.
What do they have in common
All these modal verbs , , and are translated as "should", "ought to". They are used to express the need to do an action due to certain circumstances. Usually it is an obligation or a moral duty.
Applicants should have a good academic performance
shēnqǐng rén tōngcháng yīng yǒngyǒu yōuxiù xuéwèi
Children should obey their parents
háizi yīnggāi tīng fùmǔ
He did what needed to be done
háizi yīnggāi tīng fùmǔ
The differences between them
应该 and 应当 can be used with other modal verbs, while 应 and 该 cannot be used with them.
This film should make us rich
zhè bù diànyǐng yīnggāi nénggòu ràng wǒmen fācái
You should be able to understand it
nǐ yīngdāng néng lǐjiě
应该 and 应当 are used almost interchangeably. However, 应该 can only express the need to do something, while 应当 is advisory in nature.
He should be more careful
tā yīngdāng gèng xiǎoxīn diǎnr
该 and 应该 indicate that somebody is making an inference which he/she is sure of based on personal experience. Sentences with 该 usually end with the modal particle . Sentences with 应该 end with the modal particle .
Pay attention
In this meaning, the negative adverbs are placed after the modal verb.
They should arrive no later than ten o'clock
tāmen yīnggāi zuì wǎn shí diǎn dàodá ba
It's eight o'clock. She should be back
dōu bā diǎn le, tā gāi huílái le
It shouldn't be surprising
zhè yīnggāi bù qíguài
In exclamatory sentences, 该 gives more emotional coloring. The other verbs don't have this feature.
How great is our responsibility!
wǒmen de zérèn gāi yǒu duōchóng a
The verbs also differ in their usage. 应 is used in written language more often than 应该 and 应当. 应该 and 应当 can be used in both written and spoken language. 该 is used in spoken language.
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