ought to (semi modal)

A search for ‘ought’ in the English Grammar Profile shows that it is used from B1-C2 across 12 points.  Most can be differentiated formally, while the following 4 points will require manual interpretation to get the right level.  Not only that, the difference between advice and ‘desired state’ is difficult to interpret.

  • Point 190 in Modality is C1 and is used to talk about something which is likely.  For example:

You ought to be pretty knowledgeable by nowthen.

The Dark Knight

 

B2 in Modality is desired states

B1 in Modality is affirmative. 

B1 in Verbs is semi-modal.

The others are formally found here:

All of them together are the 12 in the English Grammar Profile as such:


A collocate search for 5 spaces left and right on iWeb corpus:

1 THEREFORE (RR ) 2322
2 OUGHT (VMK ) 1009

3 PRAY (VVI ) 793

4 CHRISTIANS (NN2 ) 693

5 ASHAMED (JJ ) 692

6 REASONABLY (RR ) 665 | 7 YE (PPY ) 568 | 8 SURELY (RR ) 550 | 9 THINKS (VVZ ) 547 | 10 OBEY (VVI ) 458 | 11 BEHAVE (VVI ) 364 | 12 REGARDED (VVN ) 288 | 13 LIKEWISE (RR ) 260 | 14 PUNISHED (VVN ) 256 | 15 AVOIDED (VVN ) 215 | 16 MORALLY (RR ) 171 | 17 BELIEVERS (NN2 ) 169 | 18 THANKFUL (JJ ) 169 | 19 GOVERN (VVI ) 166 | 20 IMPLIES (VVZ ) 166


Because all the B1 examples in the EGP contain the subjects you or I with ‘ought to’ we can possibly note

B2 complexity with a ‘range of subjects’ or even verbs.

A search in the NOW corpus for

_NN ought to _VVI

2  GOVERNMENT OUGHT TO TAKE 74
3 INVESTORS OUGHT TO CONSIDER 63

Given rising tensions across the world, energy investors ought to consider the possible benefits of homegrown fuel.

markets.businessinsider.com

4 PUBLIC OUGHT TO KNOW 59
5  CONTENTS OUGHT TO REFLECT 55

6  GOVERNMENT OUGHT TO CONSIDER 31
7 INVESTORS OUGHT TO TAKE 25
8 PEOPLE OUGHT TO GET 24
9 TURKS OUGHT TO UNDERTAKE 24
10  CLOCKS OUGHT TO FOLLOW 23
11 GOVERNMENT OUGHT TO LOOK 23
12  GOVERNMENT OUGHT TO PROVIDE 23
13 PEOPLE OUGHT TO TAKE 23
14 ADMINISTRATION OUGHT TO TAKE 22
15 GOVERNMENT OUGHT TO ENSURE 22
16 GOVERNMENT OUGHT TO MAKE 22
17 COURT OUGHT TO MAKE 20
18 GOVERNMENT OUGHT TO GIVE 20
19 INVESTORS OUGHT TO BUY 19
20 THINGS OUGHT TO WORK 19


B1: consider, contents, court, government, provide, public

B2: ensure, investors, reflect

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