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


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.


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


Q&A Forum 10 questions, 32 answers

MichaelC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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.

Asked 7 months ago
AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor Correct answer

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.

MichaelC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Thank you Alan

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.

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Candy C1Kwiziq community member

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

Asked 9 months ago
CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

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)

CécileKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

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

Candy C1Kwiziq community member

Thank you !

Candy C1Kwiziq community member

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

CécileKwiziq team member

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!

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

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 C1Kwiziq community member

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

AlanC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor

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 C1Kwiziq community member

Merci beaucoup !!

Candy C1Kwiziq community member

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 !

CécileKwiziq team member

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...

CécileKwiziq team member

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

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

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CrystalMaidenC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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.
Asked 1 year ago
AurélieKwiziq team member

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

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.

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PaulaC1Kwiziq community member

devoir imparfait

So if we use the conditionnel passé to translate 'should have' how do we use devoir in the imparfait?
Asked 1 year ago
AurélieKwiziq team memberCorrect answer
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 !
ChrisC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
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).
Thomas C1Kwiziq community member

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

AurélieKwiziq team member

Bonjour Tom !

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

devoir imparfait

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

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MB1Kwiziq community member

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?
Asked 2 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Bonjour M - No. The subjunctive is required after certain verbs, conjunctions, and expressions. It's never interchangeable with the conditionnel passé.

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?

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Neil C1Kwiziq community member

How do you say must have

As in that must have been terrible for you
Asked 2 years ago
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
One way to say «must have» is «il doit avoir». there are other constructions, however.
RonC1 Kwiziq Q&A super contributor
In fact, here is another construction «Cela a dû être terrible pour vous»
AurélieKwiziq team member
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 C1Kwiziq community member
Thank you that is wonderful. Neil J

How do you say must have

As in that must have been terrible for you

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MeghnaC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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.
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
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 !
MeghnaC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Thanks Aurélie. The clarification is helpful indeed

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.

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OlegC1Kwiziq community member

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
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
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 !

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

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JenniferC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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
Asked 2 years ago
AurélieKwiziq team member
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": Conjugate voir, devoir, pouvoir, boire, croire, savoir, lire, taire (+ avoir) in Le Passé Composé (conversational past) I hope that's helpful! À bientôt !
JenniferC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
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
AurélieKwiziq team member
"Ought to" and "should" will both be translated in the same way in French, as they mean the same: with "devoir" in Le Conditionnel. :)
JenniferC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor
Thank you

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

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KevinB1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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

Asked 3 years ago
LauraKwiziq team member
Happy to help! :-)

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

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Getting that for you now.