Conjugate devoir in Le Conditionnel Passé = should have (past conditional)

Look at these examples of devoir in the Conditionnel passé:

 

J'aurais dû manger plus tôt.
I should have eaten earlier.

 

Tu aurais dû fermer la porte à clé.
You should have locked the door.

 

Elle aurait dû freiner plus tôt.
She should have braked earlier.

 

Nous n'aurions pas l'écouter.
We shouldn't have listened to him.

 

Vous auriez dû la prévenir.
You should have warned her.

 

Ils auraient dû prendre le bus à la place.
They should have taken the bus instead.

 
Conjugating devoir in Le Conditionnel Passé is easy:
 
Conditionnel of avoir  +  dû  (past participle of devoir+ infinitive
 
 
Notice the difference between the English and French
  • in English you use the past participle form of the verb (locked, listened, eaten)
  • in French we use the Conditionnel passé of devoir + the verb infinitive (fermer, écouter, manger)
 
Compare this with:

Learn more about these related French grammar topics

Examples and resources

J'aurais dû manger plus tôt.
I should have eaten earlier.



Nous n'aurions pas l'écouter.
We shouldn't have listened to him.


Ils auraient dû prendre le bus à la place.
They should have taken the bus instead.


Tu aurais dû fermer la porte à clé.
You should have locked the door.


Vous auriez dû la prévenir.
You should have warned her.


Elle aurait dû freiner plus tôt.
She should have braked earlier.


Q&A

Michael

Kwiziq community member

22 February 2019

2 replies

Should have with “house” Verbs...

Nous aurions dû partir plus tôt.

This phrase came up in a test where I had to fill in the “should have” segment with “partir” ...should have left.

I hesitated because I was thinking “partir is a House/être verb.

Please instruct why être verb rules don’t apply in the case.

Alan

Kwiziq community member

22 February 2019

22/02/19

Because partir is not really relevant here, it's the conditionnel passé of devoir, which is not a "house" verb, and so always uses avoir.  It doesn't matter what kind of verb comes afterwards.

Michael

Kwiziq community member

22 February 2019

22/02/19

Thank you Alan

Candy

Kwiziq community member

11 January 2019

12 replies

Do these phrases have the same meaning? « je devrais allé » & « j’aurais du allé have the same meaning?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

12 January 2019

12/01/19

Hi Candy,

Je devrais aller = I should/ought to go ( conditional present)

J’aurais dû aller = I should have/ ought to have  gone ( conditional past)

Candy

Kwiziq community member

12 January 2019

12/01/19

Thank you !

Candy

Kwiziq community member

12 January 2019

12/01/19

But does « je devrais allé ‘ (using past participle of aller) mean the same thing as « j’aurais dû aller » ?

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

14 January 2019

14/01/19

Hi Candy,

 Not at all!

Just as in English...

Je devrais aller = I should go , is describing an action in the future which could still happen.

J'aurais dû aller = I should have gone , is describing an action in the past which ought to have happened but didn't and it's too late.

Hope this helps!

Alan

Kwiziq community member

14 January 2019

14/01/19

Hi Cécile,

Candy is specifically asking about "je devrais allé". I know this just seems like a spelling error, and probably it is, but if you google this (and similar constructions like "je devrais acheté") you get a surprising number of results. Actually there are more results for "je devrais allé" (162) than for "je devrais aller" (61). (By the way, when doing a search like this on Google, the initial number of results is not correct, it's always too large. To get the correct number you need to page through the results until you get to the last one.)

Do you think this is a common spelling error in French, or is there some other reason?

Candy

Kwiziq community member

14 January 2019

14/01/19

Thank you, Alan! Nope, it’s not a spelling error. I just need a native speaker to tell me if “ je devrais allé” is ever acceptable because some online translation tools say yes. 

Candy

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

14 January 2019

14/01/19

Hi Candy, 

Never ! 

The verb 'devoir' in the conditional  is always followed by a verb in the infinitive .....

Nous devrions parler .... Je devrais prendre ...., Ils devraient revenir ...etc

Alan

Kwiziq community member

14 January 2019

14/01/19

Hi Candy, I didn't mean that you had made a spelling error - obviously this is what you intended - but the hits on Google look like errors to me. (But maybe it's some dialect thing?) 

It's true that Google Translate, for example, will translate "Je devrais allé" as "I should have gone", but it will always attempt to give an answer, even if the input is incorrect. If you do the translation in the opposite direction it gives "j'aurais dû aller" instead.

Have you seen examples of "je devrais allé" in print? Or have you heard people saying this?

Candy

Kwiziq community member

14 January 2019

14/01/19

Merci beaucoup !!

Candy

Kwiziq community member

14 January 2019

14/01/19

I have heard someone say it, but it was not a native speaker. So I looked it up online and thought, hmmm, maybe ?  Thank you very much for your help and thank you Cécile !

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

14 January 2019

14/01/19

Maybe the confusion also comes from the fact that ‘allé ‘ and ‘aller’ sound the same?

Beware of Google translate as I often see errors on there...

Cécile

Kwiziq language super star

14 January 2019

14/01/19

Maybe the confusion also comes from the fact that ‘allé ‘ and ‘aller’ sound the same?

CrystalMaiden

Kwiziq community member

6 May 2018

1 reply

So French doesn't have " should have, " it has " I've had to + verb. "

Maybe this should be mentioned in the lesson, because once you read the French sentences as " I've had to " etc, it makes it a lot easier.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

17 May 2018

17/05/18

Actually in French, it's "I would have had to + verb"  =  j'aurais  + verbe

Paula

Kwiziq community member

24 January 2018

4 replies

devoir imparfait

So if we use the conditionnel passé to translate 'should have' how do we use devoir in the imparfait?

Chris

Kwiziq community member

24 January 2018

24/01/18

Hi Paula, "devoir" in the imparfait? Et voilà: je devais, tu devais, il/elle/on devait, nous devions, vous deviez, ils/elles devaient. And since I am not entirely clear on what you mean by "how to we use devoir in the imparfait", here is an example: I must clean my room. -- Je dois ranger ma chambre. (present tense) I should clean my room. -- Je devrais ranger ma chambre. (conditionel présent) I should have cleaned my room. -- J'aurais dû ranger ma chambre. (conditionel passé) If that doesn't address your actual question, could you rephrase it again, please, because I am not sure I quite understand what you are asking. -- Chris (not a native speaker).

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

24 January 2018

24/01/18

Bonjour Paula!

I think I understand what you're asking here.
The verb devoir in L'Imparfait will usually be translated as "I had to" or "I was supposed to", as such:
Je devais l'appeler, mais je n'ai pas eu le temps.
I was supposed to call him, but I didn't have time.

Il devait absolument le faire ce jour-là.
He absolutely had to do it that day.
I hope that's helpful!
À bientôt !

Thomas

Kwiziq community member

25 July 2018

25/07/18

Hi Aurélie,

The other day I found myself trying to say (verbally), by starting off 'Je devrais..', e.g. "I should do..", and stalling, having wanted to turn it into "I should have done" - I was probably doing along the lines of what the 6 May 2018 poster was thinking ('I must have had to..' rather than 'I would have had..').I think this lesson and your above response explains it.

To get the stupid question out of the way, there's no way 'Je devrais avoir eu' makes any sense, is there? (I'm guessing I was trying to construct the conditional past by combining conditional present and pluperfect).

Thanks!

Tom

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

25 July 2018

25/07/18

Bonjour Tom !

This is definitely not the colloquial way to express Le Conditionnel Passé in French :)

M

Kwiziq community member

18 July 2017

1 reply

CP VS le subjonctif?

Hey! I was wondering if one could sometimes replace the conditionnel passé with the subjonctif, and vice versa. This because the CP also technically deals with "judged" (you should have done x" situations?

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

18 July 2017

18/07/17

Bonjour M - No. The subjunctive is required after certain verbs, conjunctions, and expressions. It's never interchangeable with the conditionnel passé.

Neil

Kwiziq community member

19 June 2017

4 replies

How do you say must have

As in that must have been terrible for you

Ron

Kwiziq community member

19 June 2017

19/06/17

One way to say «must have» is «il doit avoir». there are other constructions, however.

Ron

Kwiziq community member

19 June 2017

19/06/17

In fact, here is another construction «Cela a dû être terrible pour vous»

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

19 June 2017

19/06/17

Bonjour Neil ! To express "must have + past participle" as in "must have done"..., you will use Le Passé Composé of "devoir" = "a dû + infinitive" "Ça a dû coûter cher." (It must have cost a lot) "Il a dû se sentir mal à l'aise. (He must have felt uneasy.) See: Conjugate voir, devoir, pouvoir, boire, croire, savoir, lire, taire (+ avoir) in Le Passé Composé (conversational past) I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !

Neil

Kwiziq community member

19 June 2017

19/06/17

Thank you that is wonderful. Neil J

Meghna

Kwiziq community member

10 April 2017

2 replies

Vous_____ me le dire

In the test for the above, the translation reads as 'You shouldn't have told me'. Shouldn't the translation have been ' You shouldn't have told me that'? I am trying to see where the 'le' fits in the translation given.

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

10 April 2017

10/04/17

Bonjour Meghna ! Here it's about colloquialism in both languages. You are correct that the "le" in French means "it/that" here, but in English you tend not to express it, whereas in French it's always necessary to add it: I'm glad you told me [it]. Je suis contente que tu me *l'*ai dit. I'll add [it] to the question to remove any ambiguity :) I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !

Meghna

Kwiziq community member

10 April 2017

10/04/17

Thanks Aurélie. The clarification is helpful indeed

Oleg

Kwiziq community member

20 February 2017

1 reply

Two possible conjugations in Le Conditionnel Passé?

Hello, when I look into the conjugation tables (from Le Figaro web page) I see two possible conjugations patterns for Le Conditionnel Passé the one I used to j'aurais dû tu aurais dû il aurait dû nous aurions dû vous auriez dû ils auraient dû And this one j'eusse dû tu eusses dû il eût dû nous eussions dû vous eussiez dû ils eussent dû Are this forms equivalent? Regards, Oleh

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

10 March 2017

10/03/17

Bonjour Oleg ! No, they're not interchangeable, as the second form is used only in very formal writing, and is extremely rare nowadays. I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !

Jennifer

Kwiziq community member

7 February 2017

4 replies

Must have

What if you wannt to say. Someone must have done something, how would you say that? For example. Where is she? She must have gone to the shops. Like Kevin also like this lesson. Merci bien

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

8 February 2017

8/02/17

Bonjour Jennifer, et merci du compliment ! To express "must have", you will conjugate the verb "devoir" in Le Passé Composé followed by your verb's infinitive: "Elle a dû aller faire les courses." (She must have gone to the shops.) "J'ai dû me tromper." (I must have made a mistake.) Here's a link to Le Passé Composé of "devoir": https://progress.lawlessfrench.com/my-languages/french/view/4612 I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !

Jennifer

Kwiziq community member

9 February 2017

9/02/17

Ought to have, Mercii Aurélie. Would you also help me out with ought to? what would we say for example for he/ought/should have done their homework. I ask this because I now realise that the difference between ought, should and must have are becoming difficult for me to destinguish. Thank you once again

Aurélie

Kwiziq language super star

10 February 2017

10/02/17

"Ought to" and "should" will both be translated in the same way in French, as they mean the same: with "devoir" in Le Conditionnel. :)

Jennifer

Kwiziq community member

15 February 2017

15/02/17

Thank you

Kevin

Kwiziq community member

21 September 2016

1 reply

Great lesson--thank you. Don't know how I missed knowing this!

Laura

Kwiziq language super star

21 September 2016

21/09/16

Happy to help! :-)
Getting that for you now.