For example

You should likely do something.

Does it mean "you should do something" or "you can do something"?

  • 2
    Basically it means, "You should probably try to do something." – Sven Yargs Oct 10 '15 at 7:12
  • 1
    I sympathise with the question. What I suppose it means is that it is likely (though we don't know for sure) that you should do something. It wouldn't win a prize among idioms designed for clarity, that much is certain. – WS2 Oct 10 '15 at 7:16
  • You should do something and I am expecting you to do it. Not a good way to express it. – user140086 Oct 10 '15 at 7:22
  • There is no reason to close this. It's a question about a polite imperative. – deadrat Oct 10 '15 at 7:45

This is not a popular locution. The Ngram viewer finds no instances, and the google reports only about 5K hits. It seems to mean "this is my advice about what you should do, and it is likely you'll find the advice worthwhile. A typical example from a cyber-discussion about what parents should do when they don't agree about child-rearing issues:

[Y]ou two have to decide how to handle those kinds of issues - and you should likely do it away from your son.

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