Can anyone explain what the difference between the passe compose and past perfect forms of devoir are? google translate shows them as being the same thing:
J'ai dû faire quelque chose -> I had to do something
J'avais dû faire quelque chose -> I had to do something
Similarly what is the difference between the future and conditional forms:
j'aurai dû faire quelque chose -> I should have done something
j'aurais dû faire quelque chose -> I should have done something
The first two are correct, although I think the English should be for the second one -
We are a lot stricter with 'concordance des temps' in French. In English, it is often not respected. Comments from English speakers are welcome!
A better example would have been in the third person for instance -
indicating a supposition that must have happened in the past , sometimes translated in English by -
She must have done something
and the last one is correct.
My best suggestion is to review each of the links below:-
This, I believe, will offer you the range of usage that you are looking for.
Hope this helps,
@Jim and @Cecile - thanks for the feedback and the links. The one on lawless for devoir and the associated description of mode verbs was very helpful. I had a similar question about pouvoir and the articles explained why I was struggling with it. Normally I use key words in english (will -> future, will have -> future perfect, would / should / could -> Conditional etc) to figure out which tense to use, but I couldn't get it to work for devoir and pouvoir. Yet another of those situations where you have to learn by heart. Thanks for your help.
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