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1) Is it correct to use "should" in a sentence with the purpose clause in the Present. The matter is that I have been looking through some grammar material on the purpose clause and it drew my attention that all examples given in the Present, didn't have "should" in them. But the examples in the Past had "should" in them. For instance,

1) I am writing this letter so that he can/will know what has happened.

But

2) I wrote that letter so that he would/should/could know what had happened.

Would it be correct to use "should" in 1?

I am writing this letter so that he should know what has happened.

  • As I've observed, our site seeks focused questions and answers so that they will be useful for both the original posters themselves and the future readers. This question is too broad and I will vote to close on that ground. You should improve this question by editing it to be more specific or break it down into multiple questions. For what it's worth, I believe that most of non-native speakers can do just fine without having to care much about lest. – Damkerng T. Sep 12 '14 at 12:13
  • My question is plain and straight "Is it correct to use "should" in a sentence with the purpose clause in the Present." "Lest" is only part of the question. – user1425 Sep 12 '14 at 16:02
  • I voted to reopen this question. The OP had already edited the question as requested. – Damkerng T. Sep 12 '14 at 16:11
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"Should" is not commonly used this way in the present because of the connotation. When you use "should", it connotates a mistake on the part of someone that must be addressed.

In the example

I am writing this letter so that he should know what has happened.

sounds like the recipient of the letter has failed a moral duty. It was their job to know what has happened, and they do not know. Depending on context, it may also just mean that the recipient will have some task to perform upon receival of the letter.

When you say

I am writing this letter so that he can know what has happened.

The connotation is much different. Now you are just informing him of the event.

If you were instead to say

I am writing this letter so that he will know what has happened.

The connotation is different again. Now it sounds like this is important information that will affect him in some way.

Connotation is very difficult to understand for ELL. I hope this was helpful.

  • So, if I really want to make it clear that the addressee is in the wrong then "should" is welcome, right? Are you a bearer of American or British English? – user1425 Sep 14 '14 at 9:26
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    Now that I look back, "should" can have more meanings. It doesn't always mean that they failed in a duty, just that they will probably have to do something upon receival. I will edit the question to reflect this. I speak American English. If you really wish to make it clear that the addressee is in the wrong, you say explicitly say "because it is his/her fault." – John Kraemer Sep 15 '14 at 6:57

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