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The verb « devoir » = to must, to have
The verb “devoir” is an irregular verb with various meanings.
- Je dois
- Tu dois
- Il/elle doit
- Nous devons
- Vous devez
- Ils/ells doivent
1st meaning : the notion of debt in the literal and figurative meanings :
- Combien est-ce que je vous dois? = How much do I owe you ?
- Elle me doit 1000€ ? = She owes me a thousand euros.
- Je vous dois quelque chose ? = Do I owe you anything ?
- Il doit sa vie à son chirurgien = He owes his life to his surgeon
2nd meaning : devoir as an obligation
- Vous devez assister à la réunion = you must attend the meeting
- L’enfant doit obéir à ses parents = The child must obey his parents
- Vous ne devez pas y aller = You must not go there
3rd meaning : devoir as a probability
- L’avion doit atterrir à 10h = the plane is supposed to land at 10 O’clock
- Son livre doit sortir la semaine prochaine = Her book is supposed to be published next week.
The voice intonation will often determine if devoir implies an obligation or a probability.
For example : il doit venir ce soir = il could mean : he is supposed to come tonight or He must come tonight. So pay attention to the intonation and the gestures.
Devoir in the conditional is used as a warning or a suggestion. It takes the meaning of should.
- Je devrais
- Tu devrais
- Il devrait
- Nous devrions
- Vous devriez
- Elles devraient
- Example : Tu ne devrais pas lui prêter d’argent = You should not lend him any money
- Elles devraient apprendre une langue étrangère = They should learn a foreign language.
Now you’re ready to practice !
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