Online French grammar 

 The verb devoir

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 Modal auxiliary verbs: 3. Devoir.

Modal auxiliaries alo known as modal verbs, are functional verbs that preceed other verbs in order to frame them as a possibility, an impossibility, an obligation, a requirement, a probability or a wish.
   Traditional French grammars do not generally use the category of modal verbs; but by assimilation with English and in attempt to use a common framework of grammatical terms that can be used across the spectrum of languages, the expression "verbes modaux" is increasingly used in French grammar

Devoir : meaning

The verb devoir corresponds to the English modal verbs must or have to.  It expresses obligation.  
In its most basic meaning, Je dois means I must.
Used In its conditional tense, Je devrais means I should or I ought to.
Used In the negative, devoir implies forbidding.

Full conjugation: Devoir

Table 1
Tenses - indicative

1st Singular. je dois  je devrai je devais
2nd Singular tu dois tu devras tu devais
3rd Singular il doit il devra il devait
1st plural nous devons nous devrons nous devions
2nd plural vous devez vous devrez vous deviez
3rd plural ils doivent ils devront ils devaient

Table 2
Tenses - indicative

Preterite (simple past)
1st Singular. je dus j'ai dû j'avais dû
2nd Singular tu dus tu as dû tu avais dû
3rd Singular il dut il a dû il avait dû
1st plural nous dûmes nous avons dû nous avions dû
2nd plural vous dûtes vous avez dû vous aviez dû
3rd plural ils dûrent ils ont dû ils avaient dû
Notes: Rare

Table 3
Tenses - indicative

Future perfect
(passé antérieur)
Past conditional
1st Singular. j'aurai dû je devrais j'aurais dû
2nd Singular tu auras dû tu devrais tu aurais dû
3rd Singular il aura dû il devrait il aurait dû
1st plural nous aurons dû nous devrions nous aurions dû
2nd plural vous aurez dû vous devriez vous auriez dû
3rd plural ils auront dû ils devraient ils auraient dû
Notes: Rare Means "should" Means "should have"

Table 4
Imperative and participles

Present participle
Past participle
2nd Singular devant dû 
1st plural
2nd plural
Notes: Modal verbs are not
used in the imperative

Table 5
Tenses - subjunctive

(pass� ant�rieur)
Past or imperfect
1st Singular. je doive je dusse j'aie dû
2nd Singular tu doives tu dusses tu aies dû
3rd Singular il doive il dût il ait dû
1st plural nous devions nous dussions nous ayons dû
2nd plural vous deviez vous dussiez vous ayez dû
3rd plural ils doivent ils dussent ils aient dû
Notes: Rare

Further subjunctive cases - such as the "passé antérieur" ( "J'eus dû"  !) - can theoretically be formed, though to all intents and purrposes these are never used in modern French. They may be used, but they are never required.

Devoir : examples of use


1. Je dois partir à 10h 30.
   I have to leave at 10.30.
2. Tu devras faire mieux la prochaine fois.
   You'll have to de better next time.
3. Nous avons dû laisser la voiture au parking.
   We had to leave the car in the car-park..
4. Tu ne dois pas faire ça !.
   You mustn't do that.
5. Tu ne devrais pas faire ça !.
   You shouldn't do that.
6. Je n'aurais pas dû manger tous ces gâteaux..
   I shouldn't have eaten all those cakes..
7. Je prendrai un parapluie, bien qu'il doive faire beau demain.
   I'll take an umbrella even if it's meant to be fine tomorrow..

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