Why did the use of “if you shall” and “if you should” dramatically decline?

Google Books statistics indicate that the use of the expression “if you should” and especially of the expression “if you shall” per unit of text length dramatically and steadily declined since the 1700s, as you can see in this graph. As compared to the 1700s, the former expression is nowadays used about 7 times less … Read more

“should” and value judgements

Suppose one of your clients emailed you a few weeks ago saying that it may want to hold a big conference at a certain conference center. You do not know yet if it has decided to proceed with the plan or cancel it but you realize that if the former is the case, you have … Read more

How many legitimate uses of “could of” / “would of” / “should of” are there?

After some bad calls using search/replace, I’m curious how many legitimate forms of “could/would/should of” there are. I’m interested in uses that do not derive from, and cannot be replaced by “could have,” “would have,” “should have,” or their contractions. One could of course add a few commas to this paragraph to make it easier … Read more

Is it impolite to use “you should”?

I am confused with the usage of ‘should’. For example, when I want to give advice to another person, I feel that it is not polite to say “you should XX” and I would like to add ‘maybe’, just to make the tone softer, milder. Is it true that “you should ” is more appropriate … Read more

BrE usage of “should have”

This usage of "should have" appears to be a Britishism. I wonder if anyone cares to provide an explanation of the British "should have" usages. Several observers have emphasised Dusty Miller’s devotion to the Joyita and reported his insistence that the boat was unsinkable. Why, then, would he willingly have abandoned ship under any circumstances? … Read more

Can “should” be used to mean “if” and used to mean “would” in the same sentence?

It’s grammatical to use “should” like “if”: Should you need me, call. I’ll be available should she ask for me. Should my mother call, let her know I’ll be back shortly. It’s also grammatical to use “should” for “would”: If you call me, I should hope that I answer. When I ask you a question, … Read more