Modal Auxiliary Verb: OUGHT

'Ought' is a special modal auxiliary verb. It is one of the two types of
modal verbs of obligation. "Should' and 'ought' are more or less synonymous.

1. forms
'Ought' usually takes 'to' with an infinitive.

Examples: a) We ought to go now. (Not We ought go now.)
b) It's raining hard, the children ought to come indoors.
(Not ....the children ought come indoors.)
c) You ought to sleep early. You've got an exam tomorrow.
(Not You ought sleep early....)
d) They ought to eat healthy food everyday.
e) That's awful! You ought not to have done that!

Here are some rules to remember:

1. Do not add -s to the 3rd person singular.
a) He ought to buy a new bike.(Not He oughts to buy...)
b) Mark ought to stop smoking.
c) She ought to look for a new job.

2, To form a negative, add 'not'/ n't after 'ought'; it also loses 'to':
a) You ought not drink too much.
b) We ought not be afraid of the risks involved.
c) Oughtn't we be going soon?
This omission of 'to', however, is not common in written English. Also, this is more commonly used in British English. Americans prefer to use 'should not'.

3. To form questions, invert 'ought' and the subject:
a) What time ought we to arrive there?
b) Oughtn't they be riding on this bus?

Note: However, 'ought' is not often used in negative sentences nor in questions.

II. Uses: We use 'ought' in three main ways:

1) to express the view that something is the right thing to do because it
is morally correct, polite, or someone's duty.(moral obligation):
a) You ought to tell her the whole truth.
b) The protesters ought not to destroy public property.
c) You ought to thank him for his generosity.
d) Tim ought to have telephoned, but he didn't call.
e) Sam ought to have warned us of his decision.

2) To predict that something is fairly likely or expected, based on
normal circumstances or logic:
a) Our long-delayed LBC package is on the way from Manila and ought
to arrive today.
b) The weather ought not be hot in December.
c) Two o'clock. Tom ought to have arrived in Dublin by now.

3) to offer or ask for advice or recommendation(instructions):
a) If you haven't read the book "Lord of the Rings", then you ought
to see the movie.
b) They ought to go out once in a while and have some fun. They've
been cooped up far too long in their house.
c) Bonnie ought to sue him for false arrest.

Note: In the U.S., 'ought to' is much less used than 'should', even in cases where the two are equivalent. Sometimes, to some people, 'ought to' has the air of being scholarly(formal); to others, it seems to be weaker, gentler, or less direct than 'should'.

III. word order

Mid-position adverbs like 'always', 'never', 'really' can go before or after 'ought' in a verb phrase. The position before 'ought' is less formal.

You always ought to take lunch at the cafeteria.( less formal)
You ought always to take your lunch at the cafeteria.(more formal)

The children never ought to play on the street.(less formal)
The children ought never to play on the street.(more formal)
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