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I had an English teacher a long time ago who liked using ought to instead of should.
Do you think there is a large difference between these two words?
Is ought to more polite than should?
Is should more commanding?

What is your interpretation of the difference between these two words?
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Comments  (Page 3) 
wonderfull help I feel very happy to read your answer. I think I ought to give my thanks to you
I tell my learners that whenever they see/hear 'ought to', they can use 'should' instead, and the meaning is the same. However, 'should' cannot always be replaced by 'ought to'. So, if learners never use 'ought to', they will have no problems.
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Moral philosophy can be helped here. I came across this site while looking for further explaination and clarification on what both of this words means.

I can conclude that

if someone is drowning, you should help him.
If someone is drowning, you ought to help him.

They are different.

The first sentence tells you that you will rescue him to satisfy your self-interest of being happy, relieved or glad.
The second sentence tells you that you will rescue him because morally it's right to save him even if it's none of your business, which in return, also satisfy your self-interest.

Still confused, so what does this mean?

if someone is drowning, you should help him. (dont consider moral ethic in, you will not help him because it's none of your business)

If someone is drowning, you ought to help him. (consider moral ethic in, you will help him because it is right to do so)
Anonymousif someone is drowning, you should help him.If someone is drowning, you ought to help him. They are different.The first sentence tells you that you will rescue him to satisfy your self-interest of being happy, relieved or glad.The second sentence tells you that you will rescue him because morally it's right to save him even if it's none of your business, which in return, also satisfy your self-interest.
It means that someone has decided to give their opinion on this. It's an interesting opinion, but that's all it is. Most people find no difference at all between the two, except that, in those situations where both are possible, some prefer one and some the other.
fivejedjonMost people find no difference at all between the two, except that, in those situations where both are possible, some prefer one and some the other.
"Ought" is used to express a moderate degree of simple, unconditional obligation.

However "should" is simply the past tense of "shall," which can express either future tense or direct obligation. The conditional "should," then, is nothing but a future (or alternate future) as seen from the point of view of some time in the past, e.g. "I should hope so!" or "I should say not!" as if "I" were the one in such-and-such a situation, etc. Now, by "direct obligation" I mean an obligation that is actually imposed by the speaker of the word "shall." "Should" is weaker than "shall," because the speaker of "should" is not actually imposing the obligation, but merely implying that there is some obligation, the past tense meaning the obligation is presumed to have already been imposed.

The distinction by the anonymous just quoted by fivejedjon is actually quite a valid point of view, although in a somewhat restricted sense.
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Remember that "ought to" loses the "to" in the negative. Instead of "ought not to," we say "ought not." "Ought not" is more commonly used in British English. Americans prefer "should not."
Anonymous Remember that "ought to" loses the "to" in the negative. Instead of "ought not to," we say "ought not." "Ought not" is more commonly used in British English. Americans prefer "should not."
In modern Brtitish English, ought not (oughtn't) may be followed by either a bare or a to-infinitive. The form didn't ought, followed by a to-infinitive, is also common.
fivejedjonThe form didn't ought, followed by a to-infinitive, is also common.
Wow! You learn something new every day.

CJ
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I should have added that some still regard this as sub-standard.
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