Home News Ought: How to Use It to Express Duty, Morality, and Logic

Ought: How to Use It to Express Duty, Morality, and Logic


Ought is an ambiguous word in English with multiple uses and meanings, such as being used an auxiliary verb, noun, and adverb. Here we explore its use to convey duty, morality and logic.

Ought as an Auxiliary Verb


Ought can be used as an auxiliary verb to form the present tense of modal verb ought to, such as:

  • You must study diligently in order to pass an exam.
  • He should refrain from telling false information to his parents.
  • They must respect each other’s opinions.

It can also be used as an auxiliary verb to express obligation or necessity, for instance:

  • Always wear your seat belt when driving.
  • He should stop smoking as much.
  • They should avoid wasting food.

Ought can also be used as an auxiliary verb to express advice or recommendation, for instance:

  • You should aim to drink more water daily.
  • He should refrain from imbibing alcohol prior to driving.
  • Children should avoid indulging in too much junk food.

“Ought is also used as a noun, meaning “duties or obligations”. For instance:

  • I don’t claim any legal right; only an obligation.
  • He felt an immense sense of obligation toward his country.
  • She fulfilled her OUGHT as a teacher.

Ought as an Adverb

This word can also be used as an adverb that modifies verbs and adjectives, usually meaning in a way which is expected or appropriate – for instance:

  • He behaved appropriately at the party. (His behavior met expectations at the event.)
  • She was extremely courteous and kind in every possible way, which made a good first impression.)
  • They weren’t entirely satisfied with the results (in an appropriate sense.)


Ought is an expressive word with many applications in morality, logic, and obligation. Depending on its context and meaning, it may serve as an auxiliary verb, noun or adverb – using this word in an efficient and precise manner allows us to more clearly and accurately convey our ideas and emotions to others.

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