Share this entry


British English: /ɔːt/
American English: /ɔt/
In virtually all cases, ought is translated by the conditional tense of devoir: you ought to go now = tu devrais partir maintenant; they ought to arrive tomorrow ils devraient arriver demain.The past ought to have done/seen etc is translated by the past conditional of devoir: he ought to have been more polite = il aurait dû être plus poli. For further examples, including negative sentences, see the entry below.The French verb devoir is irregular. For its conjugation see the French verb tables.

modal auxiliary

  • 1 (expressing probability, expectation) that ought to fix it
    ça devrait arranger les choses
    things ought to improve by next week
    la situation devrait s'améliorer d'ici la semaine prochaine
    the train ought not to have left yet
    le train ne devrait pas encore être parti
    he ought to be back by now
    il devrait être rentré depuis longtemps maintenant
  • 2 (making polite but firm suggestion) oughtn't we to consult them first?
    ne devrions-nous pas les consulter d'abord?
    you ought to be in bed
    tu devrais être au lit
    she ought to see a doctor
    elle devrait consulter un médecin
  • 3 (indicating moral obligation) we really ought to say something
    nous devrions vraiment dire quelque chose
    you ought not to say things like that
    tu ne devrais pas dire des choses pareilles
    someone ought to have accompanied her
    quelqu'un aurait dû l'accompagner
    I ought not to have been so direct
    je n'aurais pas dû être aussi direct
    he felt he ought not to be wasting time
    il se disait qu'il n'avait pas de temps à perdre
  • 4 (when prefacing important point) I ought to say perhaps that …
    je devrais peut-être préciser que …
    I think you ought to know that …
    je pense qu'il vaudrait mieux que tu saches que …
Definition of ought in:
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources