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Grammar Challenge


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Have you, or someone you know, made any mistakes in the past? Maybe you regret something that you didn't do. Tell us what happened and use 'should have' + past participle to talk about it.


Gol Gol, UK
I had a drug addit. So now, my memories are not good. I should't have been spent any drugs. I regret, I should have been obeyed my parents. I should have been learned English. Because my English is very bed.

Catherine says:

Hi Gol Gol, and thanks for sharing your story with us.

Your English isn't so bad (not 'bed') Gol Gol: I understand what you have written, but I'd like to help you with a couple of problems.

We need to look at the difference between 'should have' and 'should have been'.

We use 'should have been' with nouns, for example: 'My father was a teacher, but he didn't like his job. He should have been a doctor.'

'Should have been' is also used with adjectives, for example: 'My father was sad when his fourth child was born. I don't understand it: he should have been happy'

And we also use 'should have been' with passive verb forms: 'Nobody told me that the lesson had been cancelled. I should have been told by email.'

If the verb is active, use should have without been, like this: 'Nobody told me that the lesson had been cancelled. The college should have told me by email.'

For more information about passive forms, look at our new improved Ask About English area.

So here is an updated version of your comment, with rewrites of 'should have + past participle' and one or 2 other corrections.

I had a drug addiction. So now, my memories are not good. I shouldn't have bought any drugs. I regret that: I should have obeyed my parents. I should have learned English, because my English is very bad.

Good luck for your future, Gol Gol!


Suan Eng, Singapore
My marriage is miserable, I should have married another guy. I should have left my husband before pregnant with my first son. To have independent life I should have been continuing to work after gave birth to my son. My mum said I should have taken her advice in the first place.

Catherine says:

Suan Eng, I feel very sorry for you. I hope you can find some happiness in your life.

You have very nice English, Suan Eng, but in this sentence: 'I should have been continuing to work 'you have used a continous verb form instead of a participle to express your regret. You sentence should say: 'I should have continued to work...'

I noticed a couple of missing words in your work: you should say '...before I got pregnant with my first son. To have an independent life...'

I do hope things get better for you soon, Suan Eng!

Claire, France
When I was a child, I played the cello. When I began to work, I didn't have enough time to continue. Now, I think I should have taken time and continued to practice. It's too hard to learn again. It's only one example. The list of leisure activities I stopped is very long: I try not thinking 'I should have continued that' because have regrets is not a good way to advance in life. I always keep in mind 'Don't regret, do!'

Catherine says:

Nice to hear from you, Claire!

You're quite right, if you don't practice regularly you can lose your skill, not only in playing music, but in many other areas of life. But you have a very positive outlook on life: it's wise not to think too much about your regrets. As we say in English 'When one door closes, another one opens.'

You certainly shouldn't regret writing to us: your use of 'should have' + past participle is excellent!

There are just a couple of points at the end of your comment that I'd like to talk about. You wrote: 'I try not thinking 'I should have continued that' because have regrets is not a good way to advance in life.' You should have written 'I try not to think' and 'regrets are...'

Thanks again for your comment, Claire!


My English was very bad. I should have payed attention on the school. I had a headache when I came from the sauna. I should have drunk more water. It was too warm in my bedroom in the night. I shouldn't have switched off the heating.

Catherine says:

I'm not sure if this is your real name, but thanks for writing in, 'Germany'!

I like the way you have given the reason for each of your 3 regrets. For example, you tell us that the reason you should have paid (not 'payed') more attention in (not 'on the') school is that your English was very bad.

We need to look at your third regret a bit more closely, though: if it was too warm in your bedroom in the night, you should have (not shouldn't have) switched off the heating.

Thanks again, 'Germany'!


P, Thailand
I just broke up with my boyfriend 3 months ago, I always think what is the problem, he said that I didn't call him, and he think I got a new boyfriend, so now I realise that I should have taken care of him more and I shouldn't have said something bad to him, I should have said sorry to him before we were over and the last thing I should have love him more

Catherine says:

Oh P, what a sad story!

You have used lots of lovely 'should have' + past participle structures to talk about your past mistakes and regrets. All of them are accurate (well done!) except the last one: I should have love him more. You need a 'd' on the end of 'love' to make a past participle, like this: I should have loved him more.

Don't worry P, there are lots more fish in the sea!


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