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modal phrasal verbs

(be) supposed to

Use “(be) supposed to” when addressing a person’s responsibilities. Someone expects another person to do something. 


The formula for “be supposed to” is as follows: 

(be) supposed to + main verb


The verb “be” changes according to the subject. 

The main verb is in the simple form. 


I am supposed to go. 

You are supposed to go. 

He is supposed to go. 

She is supposed to go. 

It is supposed to. 


We are supposed to go. 

You are supposed to go. 

They are supposed to go. 

meeting, business, brainstorming-1453895.jpg

They’re supposed to go to a team meeting every Monday morning. Their boss expects them to go to it. 


A. Use “be supposed to” when someone else has an expectation. 

  • I’m supposed to go to a meeting this afternoon. (Other people expect me to be there.) 
  • Jeremy is supposed to be here soon. (We are expecting his arrival.) 
  • You are supposed to do your best work possible when you are a student. (The teacher and others expect your best effort.)
  • It’s supposed to rain this afternoon. (The weather forecast has created an expectation for rain.) 
  • We’re supposed to bring some food to the party. (The organizers of the party requested guests to bring food.) 
  • Broccoli is supposed to be good for you. (Based on research and medical studies, people who eat broccoli expect health benefits.) 
blueberries, food, sweet-7468718.jpg

Blueberries are supposed to be good for you. 


B. Use “be supposed to” when there was an expectation in the past, but  something prevented it from happening. 

  • I was supposed to go to a meeting this afternoon, but it was canceled. 
  • Jeremy was supposed to be here soon, but he called to say that he would be late 
  • It was supposed to rain this afternoon. (The weather forecast for rain wasn’t accurate.) 
  • You were supposed to bring something to the party. (You forgot to bring something and now everyone is unhappy with you.) 
  • We were supposed to leave on vacation early this morning, but the flight was canceled.  
hallstatt, austria, mountain lake-3609863.jpg

We were supposed to visit Austria, but our plans changed. 

  • Click here for the PDF for the following exercise:
  • (be) supposed to


    Part A – Directions:  Write the correct form of the verb “be” and the main verb in the spaces provided. Pay attention to whether the situation is present, past, or future.


    1. He ________ supposed to ________ to work tomorrow. (go – future) 

    2. She __________ supposed to __________ see the dentist yesterday. (see – past) 

    3. __________ it supposed to __________ this afternoon? (rain – future) 

    4. __________ I supposed to __________ this now? (do – present) 

    5. You __________ supposed to __________ me last night. (help – past) 

    6. This __________ not supposed to __________ so much. (hurt – present) 

    7. Our orders __________ supposed to __________ ready by now. (be – present) 

    8. Jim’s parents  __________ supposed to __________ him __________. (pick up- past) 

    9. __________ you supposed to __________ here? (be – present) 

    10. We ___________ supposed to ___________ extra hours next week. (work – future) 


    Part B – Directions: Use the words provided to write sentences and questions about the present and the future with “(be) supposed to.”


    1. I __________________________________________________tomorrow. (work) 

    2. __________ you ______________________________________ here? (be)  

    3. It __________________________________________________ this weekend. (snow)

    4. Those kids ________________________________________ on that. (climb – negative)

    5. Where __________they_______________________________________? (go)

    6. Who ___________ I ___________________________________________to? (talk) 

    7. The test ________________________________________________ two hours. (take) 

    8. Our mail _______________________________________________before 2:00. (arrive)

    9. The class __________________________________________on time. (start – negative)

    10. This medicine ______________________________________ your cough. (help) 

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