Not sure if somebody already posted this question or not but I just need some clarity on the sentence below.

Should the ultrasound demonstrate myomas I will discuss her case in our meeting.

Question: Should it be -> Should the ultrasound demonstrates

Please explain

  • Was wondering if you could kindly add the source of the statement?
    – shin
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 14:32

3 Answers 3


No, it absolutely shouldn't because that's just incorrect grammar. All modal verbs (those are words like can, could, should, would, may, might and a whole slew of others), at least in Modern English, knock out all the s's on the ends of the verbs that immediately follow them (as well as all the to's). In other words, modal verbs should only be followed by bare infinitives. Here's a simple example:

He should help me. (That's how you should say it.)

He should helps me. (No words can describe how patently wrong this is. There should be no s on the end of the verb help.)

The only time you tack an s on the end of a verb is when it is the first verb that immediately follows the subject in third-person singular form (those are typically singular nouns and the pronouns he, she, it and one). For example:

He likes to eat ice cream.

As for the sentence itself, it's fine as far as English is concerned. I think what we've got here is called a subjunctive form in a conditional sentence. The sentence would definitely be easier to read, if we put a comma after the word myomas:

Should the ultrasound demonstrate myomas, I will discuss her case in our meeting.

This is grammatically and structurally the same as saying the following:

Should you have any problems, let me know.

That's a very common phrasing in English and one way to understand this construction is to substitute should with if:

If you have any problems, let me know.

If the ultrasound demonstrates myomas, I will discuss her case in our meeting.


Short answer:

We can't use third person S after should. Here it is difficult to see that demonstrate belongs with should, though. This is because should and the ultrasound have changed places.

Full answer:

It is more difficult to understand the grammar in the Original Poster's sentence because it has unusual word-order in the first section (the clause in bold).

  1. Should the ultrasound demonstrate myomas, I will discuss her case in our meeting.

This sentence is a conditional. It is the same kind of sentnce as an if-sentence. This sentence means exactly the same as:

  1. If the ultrasound should demonstrate myomas, I will discuss her case in our meeting.

In sentence (2) the Subject of the first clause, the ultrasound, comes before the verb phrase should demonstrate myomas. This is what we expect in normal sentences. Let's swap myomas with the word problems, so that the clause is easy to understand:

  • the ultrasound should demonstrate problems
  • *the ultrasound should demonstrates problems (ungrammatical)

We can see that because these examples use the modal verb should, the next verb should be in the plain form (an infinitive). We cannot use a verb with third person S after a modal verb. Consider these examples:

  • the ultrasound can demonstrate problems
  • *the ultrasound can demonstrates problems (ungrammatical)

So why is the word order in the Original Example different? Well, sometimes in formal writing, we like to remove the if when we have the verb should:

  • If the ultrasound should demonstrate myomas .... --->
  • the ultrasound should demonstrate myomas .... (not finished yet!)

But when we do this we also need to change the order of the Subject and the modal verb should:

  • [the ultrasound] [should] demonstrate myomas --->
  • [Should] [the ultrasound] demonstrate myomas.

Your original sentence is correct.

"Should the ultrasound demonstrates" would be present tense, which is wrong since we are referring to the past.

The ultrasound has already been done and because it exists has already "demonstrated" what it has to offer in a sense, hence why we use past tense.

However if you were to say "if the ultrasound demonstrates myomas" that would be correct also; since we are talking about near future.


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