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Here are the differences between must and should with examples:


  • Must expresses strong obligation, compulsion, or necessity.
  • It implies that something is inevitably required in a given situation.
  • It is more emphatic and definite than should.


  • You must pay your taxes by April 15.
  • Students must arrive on time for the exam.
  • We must hurry or we’ll miss the train.


  • Should expresses recommendation or expectation.
  • It implies that something is advisable but not strictly required.
  • It is less emphatic and definite than must.


  • You should eat a balanced diet to stay healthy.
  • Students should complete the assignment by Friday.
  • Drivers should yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.

In summary:

  • Must expresses strong obligation or necessity, while should expresses recommendation or expectation.
  • Must is more emphatic and definite, indicating something is inevitably required. Should is less definite, indicating something is advisable but not strictly required.
  • Must is used in situations where there is no alternative but to do something. Should is used where there are alternatives but one option is advisable.

So in situations where something is logically required or inevitable, must is appropriate. But where something is recommended but not obligatory, should is more suitable.

Here are some more detailed examples:

You must catch that train – if you miss it, there are no other options.

You should catch that train – there are other options if you miss it, but catching it is still advisable.

Students must pass the exam – if they don’t, they won’t graduate.

Students should study hard for the exam – studying is advisable but they could still pass without studying as much.


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