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ought - definition and synonyms

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modal verb     ought pronunciation in British English
Ought is usually followed by ‘to’ and an infinitive: You ought to tell the truth. Sometimes it is used without ‘to’ or a following infinitive in a formal way: I don’t practise as often as I ought. It is also used in an informal way followed by ‘to’ but no following infinitive: I don’t spend as much time with them as I ought to.
Ought does not change its form, so the third person singular form does not end in ‘-s’: She ought to try a little harder.
Questions and negatives are formed without ‘do’: You ought not to be here.Ought I to tell my parents? The negative short form oughtn’t can also be used, and this is less formal.
There is no past tense but ought to have can be used for referring to actions that did not happen but should have, or to actions that have probably happened: I ought to have come earlier.They ought to have arrived by now.
  1. 1
    used for saying what is the right or sensible thing to do, or the right way to behave
    ought to (do something):

    You ought to get up earlier.

    There ought to be a ban on cigarette advertising.

    Teachers ought not to swear in front of the children.

    We don’t exercise much, but we really ought to.

    Synonyms and related words
  2. 2
    used when you have strong reasons for believing or expecting something
    ought to (do something):

    It’s a game that the French team ought to win.

    ought to have done something:

    The meeting ought to have finished by three o’clock.

    Synonyms and related words


a lifestyle focussing on simple pleasures such as comfort and cosiness in the home, and spending time with friends and family

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a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

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