Grammar aside, yes, it could be seen as being condescending. It seems to be a rather forceful choice of words. Though it would depend on the context.
A person could say it out of excitement. Or because they think it's a fantastic idea. Though I suspect that in the first example, telling a person that they "should go get some education" is the person trying to make a point that the other is uneducated. So it wouldn't matter if they said "it would be nice if you were to get some education" because they're most likely inferring that the person is dumb.
Though I did read today someone saying that they were "not in need of historical education" when it was obvious from their contribution to the discussion that it was more of a case of "I've never had an education in history".
For example, "he should be going to school now", or "my child should be out of nappies by next year" is OK. Shouldn't cause problems.
Similarly, in the sense of a company, emphasis is fine, "Hubpages has to implement clickity-clackity features" is OK, I reckon.
Saying it to an adult is more iffy. If it's not personal, seems fine to me, "You should read XX book, you'd love it" is fine, as is, "you have to see YY film". But, "you shouldn't eat that cake" or similar would be a bit rude, I think.
Theoretically its the same. It is a function of the circumstance really. Some situation never occur and some do in either land. It (the problem) applies only where the "crowd" where such an interaction occurs is of a Foreign base. If it was the same, who is to stop you being yourself? bah!
Misha, no. I'm American, and I was just about to second London Girl's remarks - and I'd say, exactly in the wording she used. I think, too, it's more important to ask what it is you're suggesting someone ought to (should) do. If it's "neutral" like "should be out of school at 2" that's one thing. The word, "should" is used in different ways. It can mean "as expected to be", or it can more mean (essentially) "in my opinion what ought to be done".
Even in the "you shouldn't eat that cake" example, it would depend on why you'd be saying someone shouldn't eat it. If you think they shouldn't have the calories or think they ought not to be eating junky food, that would be rude. If you're worried because you know a fly got on the cake, that's a different thing and not rude at all.
For the person who isn't sure if something will come across as rude or condescending it can sometimes help to simply add something like, "I think..." or "In my opinion (Hub pages should....)."
Misha, were you asking in terms of cultural standards of politeness or in terms of grammar?
If it's politeness, it's best to avoid telling others what they should do.
However, there are certain grammatical uses of "should" that have nothing to do with implying that you are telling someone what to do. Example: "Hubpages should be done with the repairs to the server in about two hours." That's an estimate, not an order.
I personally do consider such phrases condescending. For example (and this has happened more than once), any time someone presumes to tell me, "You should wear your dentures", I consider it a declaration of war. Amusing from a given perspective, but also very, very true. I've heard it said that far too many of us "should all over ourselves". (When stated aloud, a different "s-word" immediately comes to mind.)
Misha, what a good idea to ask native speakers when you are in doubt! I am taking advantage of it right away and my question, or rather, two questions, are:
1. Does this ("should do something" phrase) sound condescending always? I always say "We should do it more often" when we manage to go to a swimming pool with my sister-in-law...and she answers, "We shouuuuld!". Am I offensive to her?
2. When a kid says "You should of done it", "You should of known" and the like, is it the slang variant of "You should have done it", or is it a normal, correct grammatical form? You know, language develops....
Misha: It is all about the context. It can seem condescending even if you don't intend it to. "He should get some education" could mean you think he is dumb, or it could be genuine advice. The tone of what you are writing should (ha) determine the intent of the statement. My vote for most condescending phrase: "You gotta understand...." If I hear that, I stop listening. Great question!
Hey! We are the best minds around, and we can't give you a definitive answer. That's why it is a great question. It's an elastic word. If you are concerned it might be interpreted the wrong way, try re-wording your phrase. Or, add information around it so the intent is clear. Give it a big old cushion to lay on. (Unless you are trying to use it in a negative way - in that case put pointy, sharp words around it)
also use the passive voice, putting the action on yourself instead of the person. instead of saying: "You really need to quit that" say "I wish you could stop that for a second" or even better "It would be great if you could hold off for a few minutes", or even phrase it as a question "Do you think you could hold off for a second?" or "If you don't mind..."
well then again, if your tone is condescending or impatient, or your facial expression is off, it won't matter what words you use, so never mind.
I've been in and out, but I didn't write any hubs for a bit. One of the other spots I write for is an online magazine that does a lot of entertainment and night life coverage, so it tends to get busy during the summer. They pay me a fee per article, plus I get into every party in Vegas for free, so they get first priority.
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