Please clarify to me in which context to use "supposed to be"?

You are supposed to be here.

You should be here.

Are both of them correct or is there any difference in its usage?


supposed to be has just two possible meanings- duty, intended

I was supposed to be working this evening - duty

We were supposed to go to the game on Saturday - intended

should has a much broader range of meanings - duty, probable, possible, reason, would, surprise, advice. See the link for examples of each meaning.

The two sentences you proposed could be interpreted in these ways:

You are supposed to be here.

  • duty - you have an obligation to be here
  • intended - we agreed yesterday that you should be here... though arguably it should be "you were supposed to be here"

You should be here.

  • duty - you have an obligation to be here
  • advice -I recommend that you be here... though arguably it should be "you should have been here", as it is clear that the person is not here.

The other should options are ruled out for the following reasons:

  • probable - because you know that the person is not here
  • possible - these would apply to some future situation, and you are talking about now
  • reason, would, surprise - context

To sum up, both sentences have one exact meaning-match (duty) which is he same for both sentences, and one almost-match which is difference for each sentence.


They are both correct. They often both mean pretty much the same thing, and are used in very similar ways.

That said, "You are supposed to be here" is slightly more specific, while "You should be here" is more a general phrase that can be used in a wider variety of contexts.

For example, let's say you and I are supposed to meet someplace at 7:00 AM. It's now 7:15, and I've been waiting for you for about 15 minutes. I might send you either one of these texts:

  • Where are you? You are supposed to be here.
  • Where are you? You should be here by now.

However, let's say that you and I were thinking about going to a play together, but at the last minute you decide not to go. The play is a comedy; it's very funny and the acting is superb. In that case, I might send you a text at intermission:

  • This play is hilarious. You should be here.

This time, I wouldn't say that "You should be here" is synonymous with "You are supposed to be here." It's more like, "You should have come tonight."

In short, there are several reasons that somebody "should be here." The fact that they are "supposed to be here" is just one of those reasons.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.