One use of ‘should’ that you never knew about… This can make you sound very professional!

As you may know, we can use should for giving, or asking advice:

‘You should see a doctor’ / ‘Should I see a doctor?’

We can also use it to talk about the possibility of something happening, when there is a good chance something will happen:

‘It should be sunny later so we can have a barbecue’

But one use of should you probably don’t know is in sentences with if…

You may have heard of real conditional sentences with ‘if’ before.  These are sentences with if + present tense, followed by a second part of the sentence:

If you are hungry, I will cook you some food’ 

 If you feel any pain, call a doctor’

In these sentences, to make them sound more formal, you can add ‘should’ before the verb:

If you should feel any pain, call a doctor’

Sentences with if and should, however, are not so common.  What is much more common is to delete the if and put should at the beginning of the sentence instead:

If Should you feel any pain, call a doctor’

Basically, this is just the same as replacing if with should:

Should you need to return your item of clothing, please bring the item back to the store with your receipt within 28 days.’

Should you decide to leave the course early, please give 2 weeks notice.’

Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us’

So, by simply replacing if with should at the beginning of these sentences, you can make your English sound really professional.  That is, of course, as long as you use it only in a more formal or professional context.  You can also use it in spoken language in more formal or professional contexts.  This is great to use with clients.

There is just one thing to be careful of, however. When you use the third person, words such as he / she /it or any noun – your client / John / Helen / your television, there is no -s on the end of the verb. Here you can see what I mean:

‘Should your television breaks, please call this number…’ – No ‘s’ on the end of break

If your television breaks, please call this number…’ – ‘s’ on the end of break

Here are some more examples:

Should the software fail to load, please reboot it.’ (no ‘s’ on the end of fail)

Should the pain worsen, please come and see a doctor.’ (no ‘s’ on the end of worsen)

Should anyone require more help, send me an email.’ (no ‘s’ on the end of require)

So, to summarise, when using formal or professional English, you can replace ‘if’ with ‘should’ in real conditional sentences.  Just remember that this is only used with the present tense, and that there is never an ‘s’ ending on the verb.  If you would like more example sentences, comment below and I will write some more! Check out some more classic business phrases with should/must and other modal verbs right here!

If you have any other grammar difficulties, feel free to comment below or email me at [email protected]. Also if you have any other questions I’ll happily answer your emails or I will write a post about it! Click here for more grammar!


 David Cox

 Fluency Space

 Make the world your fluency space. Business English for career and life success

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