Learn English – Is “should” ever used as past tense of “shall”


Looking at the dictionary, I read that should has origin as past tense of shall. In the modern English, is should ever used as past tense of shall?

ORIGIN Old English sceolde: past of shall.

Best Answer

should is the preterite form of the modal verb whose present form is shall. As such, should can be (and is still) used in the past tense, in places where shall would be used in the present tense.

Two examples:

  • “It is time, we shall proceed” can be reported as “he said it was time, we should proceed”.
  • “I think it shall be okay” and “I thought it should be okay”

Other modal verbs that follow the same pattern are will/would, may/might and can/could.