I am really confused about the meaning of 'should be' sentences. Please check the below sentences and their meaning (my version)

He should be there - It is about a future thing. He is not there yet.There will be a discussion tomorrow. And we are telling him to go there. Because it is very important to him.

By now, he should already be there - It is not about future. We are assuming that he arrived there in time.

There should be a law against it - At present there is no law against it. But we understand a law is necessary against it, and we are expressing our opinion that there must be a law against it.

I shouldn't be so rude if I were you - Here we are talking about past. You were so rude at that time. If I were you, I would not be like you.

He should be married - He is not married now. We are saying it is already late for him. He need to be married soon.

The roads should be less crowded today. We don't know about the situation. We are expressing our opinion that it will be less crowded today

I should be delighted.- If you do that thing (something) I will be very much happy. Are these meaning correct?


2 Answers 2


So, I think the confusion comes from the fact that there are two things that 'should be' can mean.

The first, as Peter explains, is something that is anticipated, or assumed. By saying

He should be there

We mean that we expect or assume he is or will be there. The time frame generally depends on context, it could be future or present.


Frank should be in a meeting right now. (It is my assumption that Frank is in that meeting)


Frank should be in that meeting tomorrow. (It is my assumption that Frank will attend meeting)

The other way that should be can be used is to state your opinion that you think ought to happen.

So for your example:

There should be a law against it.

Means that 'I believe that they need to create a law to prevent that'.

Unfortunately, you can even use both versions of 'should be' in the same sentence, but the context changes the meaning. For example:

The party tomorrow? I should be there.

I can't make the party tomorrow. Billy has his first game. I should be there.

Both examples use the same sentence, 'I should be there', but they have different meanings. The first means 'My current plan/assumption is that I will attend that meeting tomorrow.' The second sentence means 'I really ought to be there to support him.'

  • "There should be a law against it" may very well apply to present. Imagine lawyers (prosecutors) discussing a case, encountering evidence of a highly immoral activity, and verifying whether it's illegal or not. "There should be a law against it, I need to cheek the books."
    – SF.
    Jan 16, 2019 at 9:57

should be

is a phrase used to express something which is anticipated and which may or may not occur or be true

He should be here by now. I expected him to have arrived by now

from the sentence we don't know whether "he" has arrived yet, we only know you expected him to have arrived and that you do not know whether he has arrived, for the latter, "he" may have arrived, but you just have not seen him.

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