I learn english and have difficult time to understand "should" nuance in english. In my language there is many ways to describe give suggestions and advice and nuance is all different,nice way or pushy way.

I would like to know nuance "You should eat now" also "you should buy milk" when im just thinking buying milk but not sure yet.

In my language we will say How about eat now? this nuance is completely doesn't care what I feel. just asking hearer wants to do or not. other one is "as my opinion it would be better if you eat now because if you won't,you will be late to eat" This is more focusing on speakers thought."i think this way so isn't better to do that?" so sounds pushy in my culture.but in western culture seems more direct to tell thoughts.

so i wanted to know which nuance is correct. Is it depends on context and tone? i heard english sometimes change nuance depends on tone and context.

maybe "you should eat now" is like "i think it would be better if you eat now because getting late and so on" and "you should buy the milk" can be "how about buying the milk?(just your decision) also "I think it would be better to buy that!if you won't,you'll regret!"???

  • 1
    Could is a suggestion, should is a recommendation, and must is an imperative (command).
    – Mick
    Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 10:38

1 Answer 1


You are correct in thinking intonation is important.

You should eat now.

might have several different meanings.

If said softly, it might be a recommendation

It would be a good idea to eat now.

If should is strongly emphasized, it might be a directive meaning

It's getting late so eat your dinner now!

without additional context it's difficult to know what is really meant by such an open statement.
In general, should is used to reference the way something is supposed to be.

  • 1
    Adding other words and phrases, in addition to intonation, can make the emphasis more clear also. "I really think you should eat now" = I am giving you an order or a very strong suggestion. "You should probably eat now" = I'm giving you my advice.
    – John Feltz
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 20:59

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