How to Use the Word Ought

How to Use the Word Ought
Updated on 25 March 2016

You ought to learn to use the word “ought.”

What you see above is a usage example of the verb “ought,” which has two different meanings.

1 “Ought” can indicate correctness or duty, often when criticizing the actions of another.

She ought to slow down so she doesn’t get a ticket.

2 “Ought” can indicate that something is probable.

Three minutes ought to be long enough.

A lot of English learners struggle to use the word “ought.” This is because “ought” is what we call a semi-modal verb. It acts like a main verb in some ways and a modal verb in others. It is usually followed by “to” and it does not change its form depending on the person.

Your sister ought to clean up this mess.
You ought clean up your room.

Replace the “to” with “not” if you are making a negative statement.

We ought not take my mother’s car.

This short explanation ought to help you on your way to using “ought.”

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