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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 10th, 2007, 08:34 am
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Default be supposed to

I had to explain this at the nursing college yesterday and I wasn't quite prepared for the question.

In the dialogue:
Nurse: She's supposed to take this three times a day.

The students have really good grammar and I thought they would already have covered this in high school. Anyway, I don't translate and ended up saying:

'be supposed to' is a polite way or softer way of giving a command or saying 'have to.'


I'm actually not so sure. I've run a few examples through my head and that's what I came up with. Does that sound about right to everyone else or have a missed a usage?
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Unread Apr 11th, 2007, 05:41 am
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Default Re: be supposed to

I'm not sure that politeness comes into it. For me it's something which should happen but with the implication that it doesn't (or won't). So -
She's supposed to take these three times a day - but she always forgets.
I was supposed to go to Rome tomorrow, but I've had to put it off because of the meeting with Bill Gates.

The expression also has the second meaning "people say that" as in "JK Rowlings is supposed to be the richest woman in Britain" or "There's supposed to be a ghost in that house". But that's a different use.
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 12th, 2007, 07:43 am
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Default Re: be supposed to

Hmm. I wonder if that's a British-American difference.

As a pharmacist I always said, "You are supposed to take this twice a day." to mean that's what you have to do or what you were told to do.

I think we (Americans) use it as a softer/less direct way of saying 'have to.'

Any others with opinions on this.
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Unread Apr 18th, 2007, 06:03 am
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Default Re: be supposed to

The dictionary gives it as a synonym of a suggestion. I took a look in Swan, too, which said: "Often, be supposed to is used rather like should to talk about what people have to do according to the rules or the law, or about what is expected to happen." There are also several other meanings.

I think you're more or less right, Mark. "Be supposed to" is a softer way to give a command/suggestion, much like should.
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Unread Apr 18th, 2007, 09:29 am
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Default Re: be supposed to

Quote:
Quote mesmark
Hmm. I wonder if that's a British-American difference.

As a pharmacist I always said, "You are supposed to take this twice a day." to mean that's what you have to do or what you were told to do.

I think we (Americans) use it as a softer/less direct way of saying 'have to.'

Any others with opinions on this.
So in British American : " You're supposed to" means that it is necessary to do something. ( in a softer way )Be supposed
translated in French into " être sensé... means that it's something which should happen but it doesn't or won't.
Actually, an advice that you didn't take.
Any others with opinions on this?
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Unread Apr 24th, 2007, 10:32 am
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Default Re: be supposed to

Quote:
Quote michèle 2
Any others with opinions on this?
I think HUE summarized or rather Swan summarized what I was thinking.

I use it (in this instance) to mean 'what I expect to happen,' like 'should.'
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