Astrology and Psychology

“Scorpio:  You shouldn’t waste your time worrying – today is a new day!  Some new financial opportunities should come your way this week, so you must get organized.  You ought not to make any big new purchases unless you have to.  And you had better pay attention to a friend’s advice!”

“Why do so many people believe in horoscopes and the zodiac?  Can horoscopes really tell us what we should do with our lives? Psychologists say that reading our horoscopes can be fun, but we ought not to use them to try to predict the future.  They say that the language used in most horoscopes is so general that it could fit anyone’s life.  One man was close to buying his dream house but missed his chance because his horoscope said, ‘You had better wait till the full moon passes before you make any big purchases!’  By the time the full moon had passed, it was too late.  Someone else had bought the house.”


As you can see from the words highlighted in the above reading, we use modal verbs to talk about NECESSITY and ADVICEshould, ought to, have to, must and had better are the most common. You can say something is necessary or advisable in a very soft way by using should or ought to. Have to, must and had better are all much stronger.

  • You should check with your doctor before you try that exercise program.
  • He ought to* look for another job.
  • We have to* finish this report by Friday.
  • They must be here by 3:00 or the plane will leave without them!
  • You had better clean up that mess right now!

*Note that these two modals need TO.  The others do not.

Note also the negativesshould not, ought not to, must not, had better not. The only one that is different is have to. The negative is don’t / doesn’t /didn’t have to.

  • You should not worry so much.
  • They ought not to take so much luggage with them.
  • You don’t have to go to work if you feel really sick.
  • He must not do that again or he’ll lose his job.
  • You had better not try to pet that strange dog!

The questions are easy, except that have to is different again:

  • Should she try the driving test again?
  • Ought he to eat so much?
  • Must I pay the traffic ticket this week?
  • Had you better keep your passport in a safe place?
  • Do you have to leave so soon?

Exercise 1: Use the best modal verb in the following sentences.

  1. You probably _________________get 8 hours of sleep each night.
  2. She ______________pay that speeding ticket or she could lose her license!
  3. I can’t go out tonight; I __________________study for an exam.
  4. They ______________not swim during this thunderstorm; they could be struck by lightning!
  5. Do you think I _______________try that new restaurant?


Exercise 2:  Look in the Astrology and Psychology reading selection and find synonyms for the following words or phrases:

  1. perfect, ideal ___________________
  2. suggestions ____________________
  3. anything you buy________________
  4. chance________________________
  5. describe something that you believe will happen in the future________________


Exercise 1:  1. should, ought to  2. must, had better  3. have to, must  4. had better, must  5. should, ought to

Exercise 2:  1. dream  2. advice  3. purchase  4. opportunity  5. predict