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How do modal verbs behave in the past tense? Should I keep 'should' or replace it with 'should have'? For instance

She said he should (have) wash(ed) his hands before the dinner.

You replace 'will' with 'would' in the past (I know it's not a modal verb) so I don't rule out that you do something with modals too.

  • Should doesn't change. Her words: "You should wash your hands before dinner". She said he should wash his hands before dinner. We don't say 'the' before dinner, unless we mean a formal dinner. – Michael Harvey Sep 2 at 20:11
  • Could you pose a broader question? There are tons of modals and, I wonder, why don't you go and do a few exercises first. Do you expect a list with how they all behave? can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will and would. Not to mention ought and had better? And dare and need, sometimes? – Lambie Sep 2 at 21:14
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Modal verbs are defective. They don't have proper tenses.

"Should" evolved from an Old English word that was a past subjunctive of "Shall". It doesn't have a past tense form.

In the example you give, the word "should" isn't back-shifted:

She said, "John, you should wash your hands before dinner". (direct)

She said that John should wash his hands before dinner. (reported)

If a past tense of "should" is needed, you can often replace "should" with "be supposed to".

She said, "John you are supposed to wash before dinner".

She said that John was supposed to wash before dinner.

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