2

I'm not a native English speaker.

All the examples of "ought to have" in my grammar book are in the past tense. But can I use it in the present tense to say that someone probably has something?

I ought to have time tomorrow to meet you (I should have time tomorrow to meet you).

  • Welcome to EL&U. Proofreading questions ("Is this right?", "Are there any mistakes?") is off-topic in this community. I deleted the question. Please make sure that you take the tour and visit our help center for additional guidance. – user140086 Jan 3 '16 at 3:18
  • @Rathony This is not a proofreading question. stegaman is asking about a specific usage. The question might be more appropriate in ELL, though. – GoDucks Jan 3 '16 at 3:20
  • @GoDucks It depends on how you define it. And this question could be borderline on-topic. I just posted a comment to ask stegaman to learn more about this community and haven't close-voted it yet. Let's see how others respond to this question. – user140086 Jan 3 '16 at 3:23
  • @Rathony What do you mean you "deleted the question"? – GoDucks Jan 3 '16 at 3:25
  • @GoDucks I deleted "Is the sentence correct?" You could see the revision history by clicking on "edited X minutes ago" right above Rathony. It shows what has been changed and deleted. – user140086 Jan 3 '16 at 3:26
3

Yes, you can. Just one example from the Oxford English Dictionary (OED):

1796 J. Lawrence Philos. & Pract. Treat. Horses I. vi. 305 The Thames-street carts ought to have either four wheels, or three.

Example from popular television

Everybody Ought to Have a Maid (2009)

Just google "ought to have a" and start reading the pages of results.

And so, yes your sentence is correct.

  • "ought to have a" brilliant! – stegaman Jan 3 '16 at 2:17
1

You can use ought in the present tense to say that someone probably has something.

Definition of ought:

Used to indicate a desirable or expected state.

e.g., He ought to be able to take the initiative.

But you cannot use the phrase ought have with the present or future tense.

Definition of the idiom, ought to have (done something):

Used when you realize that someone did not do the right thing in the past.

e.g., You ought to have listened to the warnings.

e.g., I know I ought not to have taken the money.

So, your example sentence is confusing. If you are using "ought have" idiomatically, the sentence does not make sense, because it means:

I regret not to have time tomorrow to meet you.

But, if you are using "ought have" in the literal sense, it does make sense:

I will probably have time tomorrow to meet you.

To avoid confusion, I would phrase the sentence in other words, like you wrote:

I should have time tomorrow to meet you.

In general, try to avoid using idioms in the literal sense (even if it is obvious based on context that you do not mean the idiom), because people may not understand that you are not using the idiom.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.