Learn English – Difference between “should” and “ought to”

differencesmeaningmodal-verbsshould

What is the difference between You should go and You ought to go? I rarely use the latter.

Best Answer

Semantically, there is no real difference between the two constructions, and they can be used interchangeably. I agree with you that "should" has become the far more common construction.

Even back to the Old English (and earlier Proto-Germanic), the words carry a nearly identical sense of obligation. As such, I'd be hard pressed to articulate even a minor connotative difference between the two forms in modern usage.