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ought is one of the 1000 most common headwords.
otherwise - ought - out

Other spellings[change]



Simple present

Simple past


  1. (modal) If you ought to do something, doing it is better than not doing it.
    I think perhaps we ought to help her.
    It's dangerous and there ought not to be any children close by.
    We really ought to go a bit early because of the snow.
    What time ought the school to open?
    I suppose I ought to write her an e-mail.
  2. (modal) If something ought to be true, you have reason to believe it, but you don't know, or it is not true.
    Oughtn't he to be here by now.
    You ought to be able to finish that in an hour.


Ought is different from other modal verbs (e.g., may, will, could) in that it takes to + infinitive instead of a bare infinitive. For example:

I will go.
I ought to go.

There is, however, a trend to use ought with a bare infinitive in negatives and certain questions. For example:

You oughtn't (to) worry about it.
Ought we (to) ask her about it?