Devoir (and its discontents)

MaxC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Devoir (and its discontents)

After I had had to do my homework, I went for a walk.

Really? No native English speaker would ever say this. One might say "After I did my homework, I went for a walk" but that doesn't mean what I think the question writer is after.

Having had to do something is a state of being, not something after which one takes a walk. Consider a work around to what is said: "After being in a position where I was required to do my homework, I took a walk." Weird, awkward, unidiomatic, and just strange. If this question was written by a native English speaker, it was surely in pursuit of teaching the plupurfect of devoir, which I never hear in conversation. It is something taught but in my experience never used and really never needed. Apparently, whatever exists on the conjugation chart has to be worked into a question....

When I took French in 60s, the pluperfect of devoir was translated as "must have", but I only hear the passe compose in cases where the pluperfect might have worked. Again, I never hear this said and rarely written.

Anyway you look at it, devoir in the past is a condition - not something that happens before something else happens.  So no more is needed than the passe compose IMO.....

Asked 5 months ago
CélineKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

Bonjour Max,

Thank you for your feedback! We have now amended this sentence. ;-)

I hope this is helpful.

Bonne journée !

MaartenC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Agree with some of your sentiment, but it is a lesson on plus-que-parfait, after all. As for the example quoted, slight tweaking changes it to “I had had to do my homework before going for a walk”, which is more likely to be heard, if only occasionally. No argument that in English one ‘had’ is often dropped, but there is a slight difference in emphasis between the two (in some parts). Likewise, in everyday French, passé composé is the most common past tense in conversation, but not the only one used, and in writing plus-que-parfait certainly gets a run. 

JimC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

Hi Max,

Supplementary to Maarten's post - I'm very unclear about your statement " devoir in the past is a condition".

How can this be?   Devoir  --  to have to    and in the past --  to had to

Where is the condition?

Confused!

Jim

 

JaneB2Kwiziq community member

I agree. Had had would not be used by English speaker. It is a way of thinking about the language but not a good translation. One ' had ' is enough. A description of when such as a day would give the sense.

Devoir (and its discontents)

After I had had to do my homework, I went for a walk.

Really? No native English speaker would ever say this. One might say "After I did my homework, I went for a walk" but that doesn't mean what I think the question writer is after.

Having had to do something is a state of being, not something after which one takes a walk. Consider a work around to what is said: "After being in a position where I was required to do my homework, I took a walk." Weird, awkward, unidiomatic, and just strange. If this question was written by a native English speaker, it was surely in pursuit of teaching the plupurfect of devoir, which I never hear in conversation. It is something taught but in my experience never used and really never needed. Apparently, whatever exists on the conjugation chart has to be worked into a question....

When I took French in 60s, the pluperfect of devoir was translated as "must have", but I only hear the passe compose in cases where the pluperfect might have worked. Again, I never hear this said and rarely written.

Anyway you look at it, devoir in the past is a condition - not something that happens before something else happens.  So no more is needed than the passe compose IMO.....

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