What is meaning of "should" in these sentences?

What are differences from other usages of "should"?

  1. It's funny that you should say that. I was going to say the same thing.

  2. It's only natural that parents should worry about their children.

  • 1
    You may be interested in the ELU question should: It's funny you should say that. Feb 19, 2019 at 15:00
  • you shared link about first sentence but my second sentence is diffrent according to 1 @FumbleFingers Feb 19, 2019 at 16:11
  • "Should" in your second sentence is not optional as in your first one since the meaning would differ. With "should", we are advising parents to worry about their children as parents are known for their kindness and sympathy, so it is a normal/natural thing for them to do. Without "should", we are pointing out the fact that parents already worry about their children because of their nature as parents. Feb 19, 2019 at 19:30
  • 1
    @Tasneen ... Actually, you have highlighted that the sentence is ambiguous. It can be read as a piece of advice "parents should worry about their children" or as FumbleFingers said, it can just mean "parents worry about their children". The presence of the words "It's only natural that" tends to hint (although not conclusively) that it means "It's only natural that parents are likely to worry about their children".
    – fred2
    Feb 20, 2019 at 1:07
  • @fred2 - I see now how can it has two meanings which are a piece of advice and the last sentence you provided. FumbleFingers's first comment has got deleted, but it wasn't mentioning anything about the OP's second sentence except in the last statement and between parentheses, he wrote something like compared to the first sentence where the "should" is optional, the second sentence is not. I have kind of used that to begin my first comment with. Feb 20, 2019 at 11:02

1 Answer 1


As you likely already know, the word should usually means that something ought to be done, or that there is some sense of obligation or morality involved. In these two examples, it does not have that meaning at all.

Instead, in both of these cases the word works as a substitute for an implied did. In modern usage

It's funny that you should say that.

It's funny that you say that.

have the same meaning. The word should is completely optional. The sentence means "I think it is strange or meaningful that you used the words you used."

Should has the same meaning in your second example. It essentially means "do."

It's only natural that parents should worry about their children.

It's only natural that parents worry about their children.

both mean the same thing.

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