Difference Wiki

Should vs. Should Be: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on November 22, 2023
"Should" implies obligation or advisability, while "should be" suggests an expected or ideal state or condition.

Key Differences

"Should" is used to express obligation, advisability, or probability, typically referring to actions or decisions. "Should be," however, is a form of passive voice suggesting how things ideally would be or are expected to be, often beyond the control of the subject.
"Should" often precedes a verb in its base form and is used to give advice or make recommendations. For instance, "You should see a doctor." In contrast, "should be" is followed by a noun or an adjective, as in "The room should be clean."
In usage, "should" is active, focusing on the action that needs to be taken, while "should be" implies a state or condition that is desired or expected to exist. "You should study more" (action) versus "You should be more prepared" (state).
The difference also extends to the degree of subjectivity: "should" often reflects the speaker's opinion, while "should be" can imply a more general or widely accepted expectation. "You should try harder" (personal advice) versus "There should be equality" (general expectation).
While "should" can suggest a course of action that may or may not be followed, "should be" often conveys a sense of something that is lacking or not as it ought to be. "You should apologize" (action not yet taken) versus "You should be sorry" (implied deficiency in feeling).

Comparison Chart

Grammatical Form

Modal verb + base verb
Modal verb + "be" + adjective/noun


Suggests advisability or obligation
Indicates an expected or ideal state


On actions to be taken
On a state or condition

Sentence Structure

Active voice
Passive voice


Reflects speaker’s opinion or recommendation
Implies a general expectation or norm

Should and Should Be Definitions


Indicates a recommendation or advice.
You should drink more water for better health.

Should Be

Used to express what is considered appropriate or necessary.
The temperature should be set at a comfortable level.


Suggests something is probable or expected.
It should rain tomorrow according to the forecast.

Should Be

Suggests a condition that is desired or is likely to occur.
He should be arriving any minute now.


Implies an obligation or duty.
Students should complete their assignments on time.

Should Be

Expresses a normative or standard expectation.
Children should be seen and not heard.


Used to express a conditional mood.
If you want to succeed, you should work hard.

Should Be

Indicates an expected or ideal state.
The room should be clean before guests arrive.


Refers to a desirable or preferable action.
You should always tell the truth.

Should Be

Refers to a theoretical or hypothetical situation.
There should be more parks in the city.


(auxiliary) Ought to; indicating opinion, advice, or instruction, about what is required or desirable.


Used to issue an instruction (traditionally seen as carrying less force of authority than alternatives such as 'shall' or 'must').
You should never drink and drive.
The law is clear that you should always wear a seat belt.
The manual says that this switch should be in the 'off' position.


Used to give advice or opinion that an action is, or would have been, beneficial or desirable.
You should go and see that film. I think you'll enjoy it.
I should exercise more often, but I’m too lazy.
She should not have been so rude.


How is "should be" used?

"Should be" is used to indicate an expected or ideal state or condition.

Does "should be" reflect certainty?

No, "should be" suggests expectation but not certainty.

Is "should" a strong command?

"Should" is less commanding and more suggestive or advisory.

Does "should be" imply something is lacking?

Often, "should be" can imply that something is not as it ideally should be.

Can "should" indicate a recommendation?

Yes, "should" is commonly used to indicate recommendations.

What does "should" imply?

"Should" implies obligation, advisability, or likelihood.

Is "should be" used in passive constructions?

Yes, "should be" is typically used in passive voice constructions.

Is "should" used for hypothetical situations?

"Should" can be used for hypothetical or conditional situations.

Can "should" be used for giving advice?

Yes, "should" is often used to give advice or suggestions.

Can "should" be used in giving personal opinions?

Yes, "should" is often used to express personal opinions.

Does "should" always require an action?

Generally, "should" is followed by a verb, implying action.

Can "should be" suggest improvements?

"Should be" is often used to suggest how things could be improved.

Can "should" be used in formal recommendations?

Yes, "should" is appropriate in formal advice or recommendations.

Does "should" convey a sense of urgency?

"Should" conveys urgency less than "must" but more than "could."

Does "should be" imply a universal standard?

"Should be" can imply a standard or expectation generally accepted.

Does "should be" require additional context?

"Should be" often requires context to understand the expected state.

Is "should be" more about state than action?

Yes, "should be" is more about a state or condition than a specific action.

Is "should be" indicative of societal expectations?

"Should be" can reflect societal or cultural expectations.

Can "should be" indicate conformity to norms?

Yes, "should be" often indicates conformity to social or moral norms.

Can "should" express probability?

"Should" can express what is likely or expected to happen.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons