Are there some differences in sentences

You've got to be strong.


You should be strong.

Are they the same?

  • I will add that to add to the confusion here, "You've got to be strong" is something of an idiomatic phrase used to encourage or comfort someone to whom some kind of tragedy has happened. You should be strong would have the opposite of this connotation. – Vality Dec 27 '14 at 10:41
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    @JoeDark - Who taught him? You've got to be kidding. "You've got to be strong" is a common expression, often used in the way Vality mentioned. Do you really think people have got to be impaled for using words in a way you don't approve of? – nnnnnn Dec 27 '14 at 13:14
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    @JoeDark - Ah, but what is "correct English"? – J.R. Dec 27 '14 at 13:37
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    @JoeDark - So what, disagreement about usage of "got" means I must be ignorant about what "ironic" means? If I used "idiom" incorrectly I must be wrong about everything? I meant that "You've got to" is an idiomatic usage of "got". I already said that it is an informal usage. I don't claim that it's the primary usage. The dictionary indicates that this usage is less common in American English than in British English; I speak Australian English (which is of course closer to British than American). – nnnnnn Dec 27 '14 at 15:06
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    @Joe - incorrect is a strong word. This dictionary prefers the softer term informal. – J.R. Dec 27 '14 at 16:14

There are things we need to do, and there are things we should do. Think of "needs" as requirements, while "shoulds" are recommendations.

So, if you want to convey that it is absolutely essential to remain strong, use one of these:

We need to be strong.
We must be strong.
We've got to be strong.

On the other hand, if you are recommending that we remain strong, use one of these:

We should be strong.
We ought to be strong.

And if you want to express confidence that our strength will not falter:

We will remain strong.
We shall remain strong.

  • Slightly disagreeing with your last paragraph. In my dialect, "we will remain strong" expresses confidence or determination that our strength will not falter, whereas "we shall remain strong" is an emotionally neutral future tense. – Dawood ibn Kareem Dec 27 '14 at 23:52

Their meanings are the same, but their use contexts are slightly different. While both mean roughly the same thing ('you need to become stronger'), 'you've got to' is more impassioned and more personal (and slightly more informal) than 'you should'.

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    Your answer makes me wonder if the "slightly more informal" difference would disappear if the first one was expanded to "You have got to be strong." – J.R. Dec 27 '14 at 9:34

They're not the same.

You've got to be strong.

This means that you need to be strong, that is that strength is a mandatory requirement for the situation.

This expression is often used in reference to emotional strength needed to weather a current or expected crisis, though of course it can refer to physical strength.

You should be strong.

This could be interpreted in more than one way depending on the context. It could mean that strength is desirable but perhaps not necessary if you have other qualities that apply. For example you could win a fight using brute strength or by using superior speed to knock out your opponent before they have a chance to use their superior strength. In my experience this expression is much less likely to be applied to emotional strength: you might say "You've got to be strong to cope with a divorce", but you wouldn't say "You should be strong to cope with a divorce."

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