ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Shall we discuss the definition or meaning of words in the past tense & what they mean in the future tense

Updated on June 20, 2012

Thou shall not or should not - shouldn't in the future misunderstand or misconstrue the meaning of the word "should"

Should one do so,ye shall be required to reinterpet the meaning.therof forthwith not withstanding the re-interpetation of forsaid meaning

The definition of the word "should " past present and future

Should's present tense is shall

Should's future tense either does not exist or is unkown - shall't thou remember this in the future? Or ,is the word "should " used in the future tense of shall, as well as, it's past tense? Such as, thou shouldn't or should have,should've done something in the past or should do something in the future ? Thou shalt not!

The dictionary definition of the word "should"

" Used as an auxiliary to express the condition,obligation or propriety,probability,or futurity from a point of view in the past" Apparently this means hindsight is 20/20.

What does thou think of the dodo who hath written this uncomprehensable sentancing?

Let me see now, (to express the condition).What does that mean?

Example ;

You "should" brush your teeth,if you expect them to stay in good condition?

If,should is the past tense of the word shall then why do we use the words should and have in conjuction ,such as you should have, we should have ,I should have or they should have?

Why not just say you could have,we could have,I could have or they could have?

The dictionary definition of the word "could " is used as an auxiliary in the past as a polite and less forceful alternative to the word can. It's the past tense for the word "can" .

The word "could" is to the word "can" as the word "should " is to the word "shall ".

If,the use of the word "should" or the word "could" is (to express futurity from a point of view in the past),as defined then most people must disagree with this concept since most people have used the words "should" and "could" from not only from a point of view in the past ,but also from the point of view of the future and almost never use it,or see it used in the present tense of "shall " although the word "can" has been is used extensively ,the word "shall" is not only under used ,but misunderstood except maybe in the legal profession where words sometimes are defined by the lawyers themselves in the context they define language.So much for clarity,and common definitions.

Shall we continue?

The dictionary definition of the word "shall"

" Shall " ; used as an auxiliary to express a command,what seems inevitable or likely in the future,simple futurity,or determination.The past tense of shall being "should"

Shall meaning something that should have been done or could have been done ,rather than something that "must" be done right away.which seems to me to be an oxymoron since the word shall in and of itself,"should" mean "NOW" or "MUST" rather than be thought of as something that's optional or voluntary ,rather than being manditory as it seems it was ment to convey

When used in conjunction with other words such as;

(Today you shall) ,(tomorrow you shall), (the next day you shall) or( I shall and we shall) all use the word "shall " and when used in a sentance as presented here can be used to refer to the past,present or furture as well as indicating something that is manditory,rather than optional. When we use the word should most of us think of the word "should" as being just that optional..

The words "should" and "shall",and the words "would" and "will" are these words synonymous,synchronous,systematic with each other?

If,we "should" -" we "shall" If,we "would" - we "will"

If,we "shant" - we "should" not - If,we "shall not" - "will" not. or "shouldn't" - we "won't"

If,we do - we "shall" - If,we "should" - we "will"

If,all of the above is true then "shall" the above be construed a "syllogism" ?

What about words like past ,present and future?

Do we have other words that can be used as an auxiliary?

"Yesterday" and "yesteryear",are the only words that come to mind as auxiliary words for the word "past "

"Now" or "today",is the only words I can think of to used as an auxiliary for the word " present ".

"Tomorrow", is the only word I can think of that can be used as an auxiliary to the word " future "

The only other possible use of these three words,past,present,and future that could indicate another time frame other than the one they individually represent,is when they are used together in a sentance.where they are compared to each other's meanings.

The word "future" could be used in place of the word, "tomorrow" unless one litterally means the next day.

The word "Today" could be,used in place of the word "present" unless one litterally means one particular day on the calander.


"Tomorrows past" is the "present" and "yesterdays past" is even further in the past. than the present or "yesteryear".

Is there such a concept as yesterday's future,today's future or tomorrows future ,yesterday's past,tomorrows past or the future's past'?

Is,there a difference between yesterdays future,todays future and tomorrows future?

If,the past has an effect on the present and the present has an effect on the future ,what does the future have an effect on? itself?

Is there such a thing as the future? If,not,then all there really is,is the present and that's all there really was or, is or will be, a constantly changing present.!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • someonewhoknows profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      The phrases - "You are supposed to" or "You are expected to" can both be interchanged with the word "should" in the two examples I give here.They are more descriptive as well as understandable for most people to understand than using the word "Shall".

      Many people use the word "Should" as meaning "voluntary" rather than "required" as the word "Shall" implies. Even though the two words seem to have the opposite meaning they are also considered to have the same in meaning by some.

      In my opinion it's best to be as clear as possible when we want to convey something specific rather than leave the meaning up to the reader to decide what they think you mean.

      The word "Shall" is more demanding in it's meaning than the word "Should"and probably "Should" be used that way!

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      5 years ago from South Africa

      English is my 2nd language - not my mother tongue. So please advice!

      Is should not also another word for "are/is supposed to", or 'must' as in - "You should brush your teeth every morning."

      "You shall brush your teeth" seems to be a rude order.

      "You must brush you teeth" also seems to be an order.

      "You should brush your teeth" seems to be advice.

      I am now totally confused! If I knew that I should have used shall instead of should, I would have passed my English exam...... ??? On the other hand, you should give me the opportunity to write another exam....



    • tom hellert profile image

      tom hellert 

      8 years ago from home


      I should definitely say in the past, present and future tenses ... This hub made,makes will make my head hurt if I read it again, in whatever time I choose or happen to be in near or after.. I enjoyed reading it nonetheless. I shall (Ithink) read more of your Hubs. "Live Long and Prosper".


    • someonewhoknows profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      I see your point of view,however there are no immutable points in time.If,that were the case time would stop.Everything is always in a state of change.We,may not see that change as easily as we would like.

      The idea of the NOW is always changing.The past,present and future can all be changed by what what we do in the NOW.

    • lmmartin profile image


      8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      In that case -- we shall have. However, in writing we always choose an immutable point in time in which to express our story.

    • someonewhoknows profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      I get it ! Maybe you should also consider the possibility that the word should be referred to as the future perfect tense as well.If,you consider that time is always changing and past and future are connected and that we should reconsider the meaning of the word in the NOW!

    • lmmartin profile image


      8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      Hi someone who knows, from someone who edits. We say should have as the past perfect tense, meaning something we should do but should have done in the past. Get it? Fun hub.

    • someonewhoknows profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      I like to think of time as circle with either no starting point and ending point or a circle with a starting and ending point.I think it all depends on our consciousness.

      We can seperate a circle into small segments,like we do with our calender into days,weeks,months,years,decades etc...but if the circle is infinitely large,we would be unable to see it in it's entirety on a macro scale,yet we can see a smaller circle on a micro scale in terms we can understand,seconds minutes hours,days ,weeks,months,years,decades,centuries,milleniums etc..once the numbers get this large or infintely small we have a more difficult "time" pun intended decerning what eternity would be composed of.It,has little meaning to us.It,would be like an insect that lives a few days,trying to understand the human time frame.

      Just as an infinitely small timeframe would have little meaning to us.

      Yet to an insect a second could be like a few years in perception compared to our frame of reference.

      To an insect we would seem ageless to say the least.

      It seems the younger we are time seems to by slower,and the older we get the faster it seems to go by.

      The same is true ,when we want something to last longer,or when we can't wait for time to pass quickly enough.

    • msorensson profile image


      9 years ago

      The present is where past and future converge. However according to the present theory of black holes being explained by Einsteins theory, there is really no such dimension as time. It is a construct..much like the whole world is, formed by our own collective agreement of a persistent illusion.

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 

      9 years ago from Western Australia

      What a philosophical question? I love creative writing but English is not my native tongue, so I can say I bend it to my creative urges...English is one of those great dynamical everchanging languages that there is always future for English. I speak two other old European languages which are very strictly coded and no change is allowed in them, I think they are on a 'dying path' but English has a bright future in front of it, if future exists?

      Thank you for your insightful answer about Chinesse success on the hub pages. If you have time to spare please invite me on my blogs:

    • greatAmerican profile image


      9 years ago

      Was it not our former President Clinton who said "it depends on what your definition of 'IS' ,, is"!!

      ah yes, what is in a word?

    • Wealthmadehealthy profile image


      9 years ago from Somewhere in the Lone Star State

      My goodness, I was in honors English and reading this made me remember a lot of things.....very good "creative" writing here...and for all of you who do not know how to conjugate verbs, take a lesson!! LOL Great hub!!! (should lol it be and ever changing past??? rofl)


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)