Ought To vs Thought: Difference and Comparison

The words’ ought to’ and ‘thought’ are two words from the English language. These two words have entirely different meanings and different tenses when they have to be used in a sentence. Both these words have other characteristics in their implications when they are put in a sentence.

Key Takeaways

  1. “Ought to” be a modal verb that expresses a sense of duty or moral obligation to do something.
  2. Thought is the past tense of the verb “think,” which refers to the cognitive process of using the mind to generate ideas, opinions, or conclusions.
  3. “Ought to” implies that something is the proper thing to do, while thought relates to the mental activity of reasoning or considering a matter.

Ought To vs Thought

The difference between ‘Ought to’ and ‘Thought’ is that when ‘ought to’ is used in a sentence, it is only a modal verb. On the other hand, when the word ‘thought’ is used in a sentence, it is a verb and sometimes a noun.

Ought To vs Thought

The term ‘ought to‘ is used as a modal verb in a sentence which means something is morally right to happen to be done in a particular thing in that specific situation exists at that particular time while asking for an opinion or advice by a person when they use it.

The word ‘thought’ is used as a noun in a sentence meaning something to express or an act to show of thinking something or considering something as a fact or an idea or an opinion related to something or a bunch of ideas about a specific thing or person.

Comparison Table

Parameters of comparisonOught ToThought
MeaningIt means an idea of expressing the necessity of a person to do something.It means an idea to express an opinion or a belief by someone.
Figure of speechIt is a modal verb.It is a noun.
TenseIt is used in the present and future tense.It is used only in the past tense.
Degree The intensity of the sentence is high.The intensity of the sentence is low.
Type of communicationUsed informal communication.Used in informal communication.

What is Ought To?

The word ‘Ought to‘ is a modal verb used as a phrase in a sentence by a person. This word is used in a sentence when a person wants to show that something is necessary or would be good if someone in a figure situation later performed it. The word ‘Ought to’ is a semi-modal verb.

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This means that ‘Ought to’ can be used in a sentence as a modal verb or even as the main verb by a person.

The word Ought to is used in a sentence by a person when he wants to say something he thinks is a good idea and essential for someone or something.

Using ought to, a person signifies something to be true or false, which will happen or not occur depending on the situation, especially when one wants to give advice or an opinion.

The word ‘Ought to’ is sometimes used with a past participle ‘to have’, suggesting the best or worst for someone doing something. A person uses it to say something to someone in the most polite way possible.


  1. He ought to have reached college an hour ago.
  2. She thinks she ought to go to the museum tomorrow with her family.
  3. The plan ought to have worked for us.
  4. The money needed to buy a new house ought to be insufficient.
  5. We ought not to be fighting now.

What is Thought?

Thought is used in a sentence as a noun by a person. When a person uses the word ‘thought’ in his sentence, he wants to show the act of thinking about or considering something like an idea, an opinion, or a bunch of ideas about a particular person he intends to give to someone.

The word thought is used in the past tense. The past participle and the past tense of the word think are thought.

The word ‘thought’ is used in a sentence by a person to denote an idea in his mind. Using this word helps to concentrate a view of a specific particular thing. The word ‘thought’ is used as a collective noun in the plural form.

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Thought is a person’s activity, which includes thinking deeply, carefully, and logically. When the word ‘thought’ is used in a sentence, it also denotes a feeling of hope or reason to do something to someone. It is also used to admire or thank someone for expressing his admiration.

It is also used in beliefs and ideas for a particular religion, philosophy, or science.


  1. That is so thoughtful of you.
  2. Do you have any thoughts on this topic?
  3. My dad had to banish all thoughts of retirement.
  4. Usually, by this time, our thoughts are on Diwali.
  5. The schools of thought debate that depression is the best way to come out of drugs.

Main Differences Between Ought To and Thought

  1. ‘Ought to’ means an idea of expressing the necessity of a person to do something, and ‘thought’ implies a view or to express an opinion or a belief by someone.
  2. ‘Ought to’ is a modal verb; conversely, ‘thought’ is a noun.
  3. The word ‘ought to’ is used in the present or future tense. Whereas the word ‘thought’ is always used in the past tense.
  4. The degree of intensity is high when ‘ought to’ is used, whereas the degree of intensity is low when ‘thought’ is used in a sentence.
  5. ‘Ought to’ is used in formal communication, whereas ‘thought’ is used in informal communication.
Difference Between Ought To and Thought


  1. https://academic.oup.com/analysis/article-abstract/67/4/277/2740491
  2. https://www.jstor.org/stable/2254795

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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