Should Have in English

World Cup English: He Should Have Saved It

Should Have in English

Everyone makes mistakes. In fact, as English learners, I imagine that you are aware that you constantly make mistakes with your English (which is okay if you learn from them).

But sometimes a mistake can be shown millions of times on Youtube. And that is exactly what happened to Russia’s goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev.

During the game against South Korea, the goalkeeper made a mistake which led to a goal. Here is the video:

(Igor, if you are watching this, I’m sorry for highlighting your mistake. But at least it is helping others learn English!)

Using Should Have for past expectations

What can we say about this? Well, the first thing to note is that he should have saved it. In fact, he should have easily saved it.

We expect the goalkeeper to save shots like that one. But he didn’t. And we use the construction should have + past participle to explain this. We use this construction when something that we expected to happen, didn’t happen. Here are more examples:

  • I’m a little worried. My brother should have arrived over two hours ago.
  • You shouldn’t have had any problems (with the computer). It worked perfectly for me.

Using Should Have for past advice

We also use should have when we’re talking about advisable actions in the past (actions that didn’t happen). For example, let’s say that you took an exam today and failed. You feel terrible, but know that you didn’t study hard enough. Your friends, if they are honest, will say:

“You should have studied harder.”

This is advice for the past. Here are more examples:

  • I shouldn’t have eaten all those biscuits. I feel terrible now.
  • Messi should have passed the ball, there were other players in better positions.
  • He really shouldn’t have said that. I think he’ll regret it.

Over to You

Watch the following video, and then I want you to answer the question.

Question: Should the Spanish goalkeeper have done better? If so, what should he have done instead of punching the ball.

Question for those who don’t like football: Is there something that you should have done yesterday but didn’t do?

Example: I should have called my accountant, but I felt too lazy to do it.

Leave your answers below!

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  • Rafael Ferreira

    Thaank you! Nice… 😀

    The Spanish goalkeeper should have grabbed the ball instead of punched it. (Is this correct?)

    • Jack Askew

      Almost Rafael! “The Spanish goalkeeper should have CAUGHT the ball instead of PUNCHING it.”

      It’s more natural to use the verb catch instead of grab in this situation.

      • Rafael Ferreira

        uhhuuh almost! Thanx!

  • svetlana

    The Spanish goalkeeper shouldn’t have stepped to the right after he had punched the ball.

    • Jack Askew

      Great example Svetlana.

  • Teona

    For example: I shouldn’t have gone to my friend because the was horrible.

    • Jack Askew

      Do you mean, “.. because he was horrible.”?

  • Teona

    For example: I shouldn’t have gone to my friend because the weather was horrible.

    • Jack Askew

      Got it! Just one small change: “I shouldn’t have gone to my friend’s (place)…

  • fatemeh vafaei

    Thank you for your teaching. I should have visited my doctor but unfortunately I forgot it.

    • Jack Askew

      Very good! “… I forgot to go.”

  • ??????????? ?????

    I should have joined your course earlier.

    • Jack Askew


  • Monika Fretz

    I should have run yesterday but I didn´t like it because I was tirred and sad.

    • Jack Askew

      “I should have GONE RUNNING yesterday but I didn’t because I was too sad and tired.”

  • Cem

    I shouldn’t have drunk a lot last night. I have a bad headache now.

    • Jack Askew

      Great! You can also call this headache a hangover.

  • Stephany Medeiros

    I should have learn about my research, but I didn’t because I was with lazy.

    • Jack Askew

      Good example. Just a couple of corrections: “I should have done some research, but I didn’t because I was lazy.”

      • Stephany Medeiros

        Thanks Jack

  • Aline Mota

    Talking to a friend online he told me his mother language is Arabic. I told him that is very hard. Then I realized that I even haven´t had the chance to get to know the language. So I told him in response : ” I shouldn´t have been so judgemental and I´ll try to pay closer attention to it.”

    • Jack Askew

      Perfect Aline!

  • Tijana

    I shouldn’t have eaten a lot of cakes these days but I couldn’t resist.

    • Jack Askew

      Good example. “I shouldn’t have eaten so many cakes (yesterday/before etc.), but I couldn’t resist.”

  • Enrique Mesias

    I should not have broken with my girl friend, I really miss her! But learning English help me to forget the pain.

  • Ildar

    Question for those who don’t watch TV…:-D
    She shouldn’t have done her make-up while she was driving her car, because it led to the traffic jam. But she was always told not to do it! Beaware away from the girls on the roads… 😉

    • Jack Askew

      Good example. Another similar one is: He shouldn’t have checked his phone while driving as it led to a crash.

  • Marija Toki?

    I should have watched the video before FIFA has blocked it. :(

    • Jack Askew

      Haha! Perfect example. Just one small change, “… before FIFA blocked it.” I need to find another video of that now.

  • amna

    I should have completed the assignment yesterday, but I couldn’t due to headache.

    • Jack Askew

      Great! “… but I couldn’t because I had a headache.”