I put "I should not say anything" and when it marked that answer wrong it told me the "correct solution" was "I ought not say anything." ...I am confused as to why "should not" is wrong and "ought not" is right. =/
As I mentioned above, I think DuoLingo is (unfortunately) accepting some incorrect answers. "Debía" is past imperfect, and so any correct English translation needs to be in the same tense. "I ought not say anything" is wrong, but "I ought not have said anything" should be accepted.
Or "I shouldn't have said anything"....wouldn't that also be correct? (And far less awkward)
" I should not have said anything" is now marked as correct (July 31, 2017). The Owl has changed his mind again!
"No debería haber dicho nada" would be a less ambiguous translation for "I shouldn't have said anything."
"shouldn't have said" is a difference tense - the introduction of the helping verb "to have" changes it to a perfect tense.
I think "should have" is not perfect tense as you're saying, but part of a modal construction. For starters, if it were perfect, you'd be able to use its past tense ("I should had <done something>".), but you can't.
With modals, I'm not really sure, but it seems that "should be <verb>-ing" is present tense and "should <verb>" is future and "should have <past participle verb>" is past tense.
In English, the only way to conjugate "should" as the past tense of the present tense verb "shall," when "shall" is used modally to indicate resolve, is to add the perfect tense verb "have." Together, "should" + "have" have the correct preterite tense "flavor" for a translation of a Spanish conditional verb into an English modal verb.
JuevesHuevos: For what it's worth, here's my simplistic analysis of this sentence. I know this is going to be ugly, but... If you break the sentence down word by word you get: I (Yo) not (no) should (debía) to say (decir) nothing (nada). From the Spanish one can certainly get the meaning of the sentence.
Now the problem is to come up with a reasonable English translation. Given the clue that "debía" is imperfect tense, it seems that adding the word "have" is unavoidable, regardless of what tense it turns out to be in English. My translation was: "I should not have said anything" and Duo accepted it.
Here is my understanding. (I am not claiming certainty.)
"should", "would", "could" are all a past tense of "shall", "will", and "can". http://www.butte.edu/departments/cas/tipsheets/grammar/would.html
They are also a conditional, when used in a conditional clause following an "if" subjunctive clause. In Spanish "if [past (i.e., imperfect) subjunctive], then [conditional].
https://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/grammar_subjunctive.html "If I were a butterfly, I would have wings."
Habitual or repetitive past action (imperfect): "Helen would sob whenever John would leave home."
"For a moment the plane would be airborne, then it would bump back down along the hard earth."
My guess here is that "would" as a past tense of a future ("will") makes it an ongoing- in- the- past. http://www.butte.edu/departments/cas/tipsheets/grammar/would.html
If you look closely at the English, as explained in these two references, one can see very close relationships with the description of the related Spanish moods/ tenses.
I agree, tentatively, that adding the "have" may create a different tense in English. "Might have said" But I can't figure that Spanish, yet.
See these references for "will have" or "would have'; "might have: https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/english-grammar/verbs/modal-verbs/will-have-or-would-have https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/english-grammar/verbs/modal-verbs/may-might-may-have-and-might-have
No debía is past tense already, so the haber is not used. Debería is conditional and can only be past tense in a perfect time tense. But the problem with elizas comment is that should is both past tense and conditional in English so the ambiguity is actually in the English, and neither translation is better or clearer, they just mean something different.
English grammar considers that the defective English verb "ought" can be used as past, present, OR future tense. Therefore, "ought to" is a correct translation of "debía." Likewise, "ought to" is a correct translation of "debería," "debe," "debes," "debeis," or however else you want to conjugate "deber."
This being said, many native English speakers would be put off by the formality of "I ought not to say anything" For that reason, my initial preference is to translate "debía" as "should." However, given that the preterite suffix "-ia" translates to 1) the English past progressive "was" + "ing," or 2) _ + "-ed," my final preference is to go with "I was supposed to say nothing" or "I was not supposed to say anything."
But since it is the past imperfect, the correct translation would be, "I ought not have been saying anything". That is, it connotes an ongoing action in the past. "I ought not have said anything" is the past perfect -- it was said and done. "I ought not to have said anything" would be "No debería haber dicho nada."
The reason why we have to use the perfect construction in English, even though the original Spanish sentence doesn't, is that it is the only real way to put "must not" in past tense in English.
"Should not say" does not properly imply past, so you have to use "should not have said" or alternatively a longer construction with a different verb like "was not supposed to".
It's not past perfect. Past perfect would be: "I had not said anything"
The modals are separate from perfects.... Or am I missing your point?
Eagersnap's correct explanation, together with mine and all of the others above, may help you understand this very idiomatic English translation. Generalmoda's translation to English is missing the word "to." His translation should have been "I ought not TO have been saying anything." In this English sentence, the infinitive phrase "to have been saying anything" is the direct object of the verb "ought."
Because DuoLingo is being overly generous and accepting incorrect answers - which I find very disappointing.
No offence meant, xtempore! I obviously misunderstood you, and the reply was meant as a more general discussion of the translating of different tenses.. In any case, I deleted it since you felt it was an unfair criticism of you.
"I must not say anything" is close to the meaning of the Spanish sentence but in the wrong tense. Other ways to say "I must not" in the present:
It's imperative that I not say anything
It's essential that I not say anything
It's necessary that I not say anything
It's important that I not say anything
It's easy to take any of those into the past tense:
It was imperative that I not say anything
It was essential that I not say anything
It was necessary that I not say anything
It was important that I not say anything
To mattcolor: In English, the verbs "must" and "ought" have very similar meanings. Both verbs express obligation, but the obligation of "must" is imposed externally while the obligation of "ought" is imposed internally. Because "deber" can be loosely interpreted as "should," your sentence works. However, the use of the preterite "debía" really points toward "was verb + ing" translation.
"I should not say anything" is an expression of a present moment feeling. instead, when you say "I should not HAVE said anything" you are expressing a past event, and that is a whole different sentence. Therefore the verb is conjugated in the preterite or imperfect tense to express that it was a past event.
I would say because "debía" is the imperfect tense, indicating past continuous or habitual action. So, I think we could construe it as "I shouldn't have done anything" (which I did, and duolingo accepted) or "I was not supposed to do anything" as duolingo suggests.
In any case, an appropriate translation needs to both construe the sense of "deber" while also indicating that it happened in the past.
The second time I did this exercise I wrote "I shouldn't have said anything" and that was also accepted, despite the somewhat differing meanings.
"I didn't have to say anything" was my answer, and it was marked wrong.
Report it every time. Deber, tener que, and necesitar, as well as their English counterparts, are essentially synonymous in the present and past. And whatever the grammar books say about should, in modern American English usage, should is essentially used only as the conditional. Should not have implies that you did it, but regret it. Didn't have to or didn't need to, or, to put it less commonly, was not obliged to do not imply one way or the other by themselves that the action was actually done. These answers not only should be accepted, they are better than Duo's. Duo likes translations that are very likely to translate back and forth the same way. Here you have a Spanish and English sentence which a native English speaker (at least American English) is not likely to see are the same either way.
This was hard to translate - I understood it in Spanish but found it hard to think of an English equivalent as we do not use should in the past tense!
I think the best translation for this one is "I should not say anything"
"habría debido" would be something even stranger, like "I would have not said anything" ???
For anyone curious, after a lot of research, my understanding is that deber gets used in very particular ways to indicate obligation that don't translate well into english -- ought, should, must, none of those ever fit perfectly. This particular construction (deber in the imperfect + infinitive) isn't actually used very often, and even less so in the negative, but can be employed to convey a past state of (non)obligation, as in, "I didn't used to have to say anything," or, "I didn't need to say anything." Duo's given translation is a good one. Any translation involving "should not have" is acutally incorrect. There's a separate construction for that, which involves the preterite or imperfect of deber (debió/debía) + haber and a participle, i.e "debió haber ido al cine." You can do the same thing with the indicative (debe haber + participle) to say something along the lines of "must have," like, "ella debe haber sido muy bonita."
This is actually quite difficult to learn. Perhaps it would help me if smne explained to me why ''El doctor me dijo que no debia comer tanto.'' means ''The doctor told me that I must not say anything.'', while ''Yo no debía decir nada.'' simply won't accept the translation ''I must not say anything.'' Perhaps there is something that I cannot see although it is quite obvious, or the distinction between the two is so small that it's difficult to spot, but so far I have not been able to figure it out. Smtms I think that those people who declare that Spanish is an easy language to learn have never bothered to learn these things and simply communicate, somehow, anyhow. Because once you start getting into the core of the language, it's definitely not simple, in fact, it's quite a pain in the ass. I think it would perhaps be better if Duo stopped mixing these ambiguous things with the things that you will actually need to communicate in Spanish, these things are so damn difficult to hammer into your head that it is not worth the time, therefore I think it would be much better to learn them intuitively, without much effort, after you have mastered the basics of normal speech among ordinary individuals.
For one thing you are trying to compare a sentence with 'comer' - to eat, to another with 'decir' - to say. This may be because you are now very confused. I like to use the site SpanishDict.com where you can input a word or sentence and get a translation. Here is the link with the first sentence entered and the result from 3 different computer translators. http://www.spanishdict.com/translation - You can try it yourself for the other one. This next link is for 'deber' alone and if you look a little way down it will show how it is used as an 'Auxiliary Verb' http://www.spanishdict.com/translate/deber Don't give up, once you do catch on you will know it all the better for having tried so hard. Good luck! :)
Thanks, I actually did not have it confused, but it was just an error of a man in a hurry. Fortunately, I do know the difference btwn comer and decir. But it is not the issue here, I am more concerned about the ''debia'' part and it's various translations, in spite of the fact that it does not change form in Spanish. However, thanks for the tip, I will try to work it out.
'must' has no past form except 'had to' so shouldn't this be correct: "I had to say nothing"???
Yes, I think this is the only way of rendering the tense in English - and to say nothing is the same as not to say anything. Just another example of how DL trains us in two languages: Spanish and Dee-ellese. Part of the fun, though!
Hmm well I don't think that makes much sense here. The sentence they give us here implies that something was said, but should not have been said. "I had to say nothing" does not imply that.
That is almost but not quite another way of saying "I didn't have to say anything" which DL accepted btw - but I think the meaning in English is slightly different.
One week later I got it wrong with "I should have said nothing" :( Although it seems that Fluent2B "I shouldn't have said anything" was accepted and these are interchangeable sentences
So much better than what Duo gave me as a correct answer: "I was not supposed to say anything".
Do you understand all the nuances and meaning of the Spanish sentence that you are absolutely certain that "I was not supposed to say anything" isn't a good translation? If so, can you please explain?
They appear to accept "I wasn't supposed to say anything, "I didn't have to say anything" and "I shouldn't have said anything." All of which have different meanings.
I wasn't supposed to say anything is the official answer and more ambiguous than the other accepted answers. It can mean either that I wasn't supposed to say anything but I did anyway OR that I was not supposed to say anything but I stayed quiet. I checked with someone to see if Spanish is equally ambiguos and she said that it was. Based on her description, the Spanish appears to mean "It was imperative that I not say anything." She said it was a very strong statement. The examples she gave were seeing a man cheating on his wife or seeing someone doing something they shouldn't in a war zone. If you say anything, it would cause problems. The consequences of saying something would be serious. You or someone you care about could be hurt, someone could go to jail, or it could cause a marriage to break up.
"I shouldn't have said anything" implies that I should not have said anything but I did anyway. If that's the case, why would deber be imperfect? Wouldn't that be a one-time occurrence and therefore preterit? However, google translate says that "debí no decir nada = I shouldn't say anything." I know that google translate isn't always reliable but other sources confirm that "no debería haber dicho nada = I shouldn't have said anything." In any case, the English in these sentences all seem to be about regret more than an obligation. My friend said that "no debería haber dicho nada" is one of the two possible meanings of "no debía decir nada." However, the latter doesn't indicate whether you actually said anything or not.
"I didn't have to say anything" means that "I wasn't obligated to say anything" or that "I wasn't required to say anything" = No estaba obligado a decir nada." Based on what I've learned, I expect that this one should not be accepted by Duolingo, but will double check with my Spanish teacher (a different person from the one I spoke to today). The Spanish means that "I was obligated to NOT say anything" or "I was required to NOT say anything" or "I had to NOT say anything." These all seem like almost the opposite of "It wasn't necessary for me to say/have said anything."
I keep getting this wrong. And this thread is exhausting. So I tried some comparative translations.
Yo no debe decir nada. = I should not say anything.
Yo no debo decir nada. = I don't have to say anything.
Yo no debi decir nada = I should not have said anything (???)
Yo no debia decir nada = I was not supposed to say anything.
Yo no deberia decir nada = I would not say anything (???)
Yo no deberé decir nada = I will not say anything.
Diga algo = Say something (HA)
I agree with Talca. It is a great chart and I thank you for it. I looked up the two you had questions on and for the first - "Yo no debi decir nada", Spanishdict.com gives an alternate "I should say nothing " which is a different tense even taking into account that 'nothing' equates to 'not ... anything'. Spanishdict.com will also go to other on-line translators and one provided exactly what you had written and another which made no sense at all. For your second, "Yo no deberia decir nada", is translated as "I should not say anything". Here I believe you were in error as 'would' is not equivalent to 'should'.
I looked up your last phrase on the chart and one translation was " I will not have to say anything" but another was as yours is. I think that as the first meaning of 'deber' at the same source it 'to owe' I find it easier to think of the other interpretation 'must' if the English 'to owe' is extended to include 'owe a duty' or 'owe an obligation'. That covers our English words should, must, and supposed (to) but not will or would, unless they could be construed as promises, but those have to depend on the context, whereas the other words do not need a context to be understood as words of obligation.
Thinking this through clarified it quite a lot for me but I hope I haven't muddied up the waters for you and others with all this. :-)
Great chart. It made me realize that the verb is a plain vanilla ER verb too. No spelling changes to remember. Gracias a Dios.
It seems odd that this exercise would use the imperfect tense before it has been introduced within the course.
Fluent2B: I am not criticizing your comment; I am truly curious: How would they "introduce" it without putting it into a sentence? Is there a part of Duolingo I am missing? I have never seen an "introduction" to a grammatical concept. Thanks.
Yes, it's a major weakness of DL that no new concept is ever introduced. Everything here just appears suddenly, which is why you have to use other resources to at least give you a basic understanding of the concepts DL gives exercises for, such as http://www.spanishdict.com/topics
Early in the lessons, there would occasionally be descriptions at the start of the grammatical form that would be taught. Just a bit of basic info, along with other names for the form, which I found very handy, as DL does seem to refer to grammatical forms, and verb tenses in particular, by names that just don't appear anywhere in my big verb book. (For example, "modal" was nowhere in my book, so I had to google it and learn about it elsewhere online before starting the lesson and take lots of notes.) But these introductory sections vanished quickly. It would be great if someday they would be added throughout.
I always lamented the fact that Duo provided these introductory types of lessons for the very early, easy sections. Every word was introduced and defined before it was used. But then, when things got tough and we really needed those explanations more than ever, they stopped providing them! Also, they began cramming 3 or 4 lessons worth of material into one lesson (whereas the first several lessons repeated the same simple phrase 5 or more times). My suggestion would be to concentrate more on definition and repetition in the harder sections.
I agree that Modal should come later after the imperfect (and subjunctive too in my opinion).
Modal verbs in Spanish are among the. Most common ones like querer poder etc. And Spanish modal verbs are very normal Spanish verbs. They are mostly irregular, but the same can be said for many very common verbs. You couldn't teach much Spanish at all without teaching them. But more importantly, the problem with teaching modal verbs us actually that ENGLISH modal verbs are quite strange. But learning more Spanish still doesn't prepare one here. The student just has to play around with verbs like can and should and must to see that they don't have a real infinitive in English and cannot be put into every tense. But that really has nothing to do with the Spanish. I have a BA in English and Linguistics but it wasn't until I started learning other languages that I really understood English.
if "debía" is past imperfect, how does does this translate to "i must not say anything" that is considered one of the correct answers?
I have two questions
1) does it imply that i did say somthing?
2) how strong is this statment.
Does it say somthing like "i had absolutly no right to say anything" or is it closer to "i probably shouldn't have saied somthing but it is not that bad"
"Deber" indicates obligation, whereas "deber de" would indicate probability. In my opinion, I think the closest translation would be "I was not obligated to say anything" which would be the same as "I was not supposed to say anything" except the second suggests that you did, in fact, say something. This is why I think the phrase is so hard to translate though, because English is so full of subtle implications, whereas Spanish is more direct! I imagine a Spanish person would say that it means exactly what it says, that "I was not obligated to say anything" and that whether or I did is an entirely different matter!
It's a good question though, because it focuses on working out the meaning, rather than the syntax, which I think is cool!
Good post, NickyBerge! I was also thinking that 'deber' indicates obligation. You just confirmed it for me. I like the way you explore the subtlety of meaning in the translation from one language to another. It's hard enough to understand subtlety in one's own language sometimes, when people are unable to express themselves clearly, but you do it admirably! Have a lingot!
When I looked for this in context, that's what this phrase meant. Basically, "I wasn't to say anything ever." In other words, something was said or something happened and the obligation was to never mention it to anyone.
Because "to owe" is the second dictionary meaning for DEBER.
?Cuanto le debo? (How much do I owe you?)
"Deber" implies an obligation to do (or not do) something. There is no way to express that in the past tense, using "must".
I translated it as "I should not have said anything". Haven't used it yet so don't know if it will be accepted.
"I should have said nothing" was accepted on 8 May 2014. ETA: But I do not think that it is correct; instead, answers like "should not" (where debía functions as attenuated debo) and "was not supposed to" (past urge) seem correct.
Literally translation? 1- Yo no debia haber dicho nada. 2- No estaba supuesto (asumido) decir nada. Difficult issue for that machine.
Except on Jan. 1 2017, Duo translated La doctora me dijo que no debía comer tanto as "The doctor told me that I must not eat so much."
Duo seems to use "must" as a kind of catch-all word that can translate past imperfect, conditional, and even future tenses when attached to an infinitive (without the "to").
I'm almost apoplectic that Duo could spend so little time on such a difficult topic. Two modules, with very little to go on. This section needs to be heavily reworked.
I looked for new articles with this expression and found "le dijo que no debía decir nada, que era un secreto entre ambos." = He told him to not say anything, that it was a secret between them. All the articles I saw had a similar meaning. That's consistent with Duolingo's answer "I was not supposed to say anything."
The words "was not supposed to say anything" were not even an option on this question.
I get this wrong every time I do this exercise because I do not understand how the word "have" can be inferred in this sentence. I put "I ought not say anything" but the correct answer by Duo is: "I ought not to have said anything."
Duo seems to have a problem with Should, Must, and Ought. The above COULD be a good translation but not the only translation. I have reported it 3/22/2017
I put "I didn't need to say anything." and it surprised me by marking it correct. I don't feel like I have a good feeling for the word "deber" in Spanish, because it doesn't seem to correspond in a one-to-one way to any English words, and the ones which it does (especially the word "should") can be painfully vague / ambiguous in English too.
Is this word also ambiguous in Spanish?
I don't think that deber is particularly ambiguous. It is true that the English modal verbs should, could and would have different uses which make them seem ambiguous. But deber is a word which expresses some sort of obligation. In the present tense it generally is translated as must or have to/ought to. Should becomes complex because these past tense modals generally require a present perfect in English because should without have is generally is conditional. So debería would always be translated as should and debía becomes should have. Of course saying that you were not under any kind of obligation in the past opens up other ways to say it in English. But essentially deber, tener que and necesitar are synonymous.
Lynette, your thoughtful commentaries are very much appreciated by me and I assume the others who read them. You get right to the heart of the matter and provide clarity for us. Please have a lingot from me. :)
because "I shouldn't say anything" is present tense. This sentence is "I should not HAVE SAID anything"
While I agree with you it's very confusing as when I put "I should not say anything" it marked it wrong and told me "I ought not say anything" was the "correct solution"...
So currently DL does not seem to suggest the correct answer when you get it wrong, because "I should not" = "I ought not" and if one is wrong, they both should be wrong. "I ought not" shouldn't be the "correct solution" if "I should not" is wrong.
'must have' or 'must not have' is idiomatic and is used to express logical conclusions about past events. (In Standard American English, we don't contract must and not.)
For example: The ice cream is melted. Someone must have left it out of the freezer. = this is a logical conclusion to make if you find the ice cream melted on the kitchen counter.
Or: There is cat fur all over the couch. The cat must have been sleeping there. = a logical conclusion
"I must not have said anything" means that the speaker can't remember or doesn't know if he/she said anything, but the situation is telling him/her that it is a logical conclusion to think that he/she did not. The Spanish meaning is not anything like that; it's expressing an obligation in the past.
(I'm an ESL teacher, and I teach this to my advanced students. It's a hard part of English to learn. )
I think you're making a false distinction. In standard American English, contractions aren't used in formal writing, such as theses and academic writing. However, "mustn't" and all other contractions are used all the time in informal writing and speaking, which is still standard American English.
I believe that it is because "decir" is infinitive, "said" is past tense, so "decir" would have to change to "dicho" in the phrase to be translated as "said."
May be you are right but I doubt it , Have said is present tense , The sentence does indicate an action in past , but may be not in the same way as "I was not supposed to say anything ." so may its the meaning that mattered here more than just the sentence structure.
I agree - it's the meaning that matters more. "I mustn't have said anything" sounds like you're saying that it's not possible that you said something in the past, which would be "no debía de" whereas "I was not supposed to say anything" implies obligation, which is "no debía".
"I mustn't have said anything" is a very strange translation. If you are determined to use "must" in the translation, don't negate it. Instead, put the negation in the predicate, because "I must have said nothing" sounds much more natural and colloquial to native English speakers.
Came up with "I was not obligated to say anything." Denied. Do we draw a clear distinction between 'supposed' and 'obligated'?
I really wanted to find a way to use the debt/obligation meaning too, because that's what the sentence really seemed to mean (to me). Thought of "I had no obligation," but rightly suspected there was not going to be any success for me in this sentence, and I would simply pay a heart for admission to the discussion section and learn my lesson there. (The best way!)
You're on the right track. The clear distinction is between describing an obligation that can be voluntarily undertaken (and hence, refused) and an involuntary obligation that one is compelled to undertake.
the word supposed... where is it, exactly? That's what I would like to know. "I was not supposed to say anything." Really? Wrong.
The verb "deber" means to have a duty or obligation to do, or not do, something. That sense can be translated into a variety of words in English depending on the context. Often in the present tense it is translated as "must" or a form of "owe", but it's meaning is quite broad.
In this example it is conjugated in the past tense for the "yo" form. So you can start by making a broad translation - "I was not obliged to say anything". But "obliged" is too formal for that sentence. What we would really say in English is "I was not meant to say anything", or "I was not supposed to say anything".
The idea behind that is very similar, but it borders more on interpretation rather than translation. You need to stick more closely to the tenses being used by DL.
To say "I should not have said anything" would be "Yo no debería haber dicho nada."
The placement of the word "Not" in the sentence I wrote "I should HAVE NOT said anything" is the same as Duolingo' accepted answer "I should NOT HAVE said anything". I reported it!
"... was not supposE to..." - I don't think the "supposed" should be past here (?!?!?!!)
"Suppose" is present tense
"Supposed" is past tense, and would be used in the sentence "Was not supposed to"
"Was not suppose to" is bad grammar, as you are mixing two tenses
Of course, you're right, Jueves! I don't know what I was thinking when I posted that LOL! Thanks for waking me up! I'm downvoting myself :D.
Ni "I was not supposed to say anything" ni "I should not have said anything" son las traducciones literales de "Yo no debía decir nada": a mi parecer, la respuesta correcta debiese ser "I should not say anything".
IMPERFECT of DEBER
yo debía tú debías él/ella/usted debía nosotros/nosotras debíamos vosotros/vosotras debíais ustedes debían ellos/ellas debían
Does "debia" mean "supposed to"? It comes up on the drop-down menu as "owned" in three different past-tense instances.
Huh! They say this translates as, " I did not need to say anything". If this is correct, then I do not grasp this skill very well! What can I do/study/etc. to improve this?
I got it wrong and the correct response it gave me was "I did not need to say anything." I know this is free and you get what you pay for.
The owl corrected me and said: I did not have to say anything.
Which is very different from: I was not supposed to say anything, which is what it says above.
The first implies that it was not necessary for you to speak while the second implies that you spoke but you shouldn't have. What does the Spanish actually translate to?
Google Translate says "I should not say anything." Any expert translators want to weigh in here?
It doesn't take an expert. Deber, as an auxiliary verb expresses obligation and can be translated as must, have to, should, or ought to.
Since this sentence is past tense and negative not supposed to works. But my only issue is that I should not say anything is actually not past tense in English. Should is one of the auxiliary verbs which do not have a simple past. It should be present perfect. I should not have said anything. But something is still funky. Two of SpanishDict's three translation engines also translate this sentence as I should not say anything. But if you translate the other direction, two of the engines use debería and the other uses debo. If you use should not have, you get a couple of options using the Spanish present perfect.
No. That's not past tense. That's present tense or possibly conditional. The only two ways of expressing the obligation meant by deber is either to use the passive voice in the past (was not supposed to) or used the present perfect (should not have/ought not to have). Many modal verbs in English have these tense issues.
They accept "I shouldn't have said anything" but not "I shouldn't've said anything". The double contraction should be acceptable IMO.
Well necesitar, tener que and deber all have a quite similar meaning, but the differences come out when you have a negative past tense construction like here. In the present tense in both Spanish and English I have to say something, I need to say something, and I ought to/must say something are all quite similar statements. But deber does imply an external obligation that is somewhat stronger. So in the past tense, especially in the negative, the small distinction becomes quite important. So Yo no necesito decir nada generally means that what you wanted to happen happened without you having to say anything. But with Yo no debía decir nada, that external obligation impacts the meaning. You were obligated not to say something. You were not supposed to say anything. But the next sentence might well be that you said something anyway. So here they are not comparable
This is too confusing. On a previous question I translated 'debería' as 'I must'. I was marked incorrect. I was told 'I must' would be 'debía' instead, whereas 'debería' would be 'I should'.
So now I've just translated 'debía' as 'I must' and was marked incorrect. Now I'm being told that 'debía' should be 'I should'.
My can't it make up its mind!
I don't know why they said debía would be must, but maybe I can explain better explain how you know what to use. The verb deber expresses obligation of some sort. It is equivalent to must, should have to, etc. But the problem here is actually more the English than the Spanish. Debía is past tense, but must doesn't really have any tense at all. It can indicate obligation in the present or the future, but you never use must to indicate a past obligation. Even when you say something like I must have left my key, the must is actually effectively present tense. It is a shorter way of saying It must be that I have left my key. Must in the past does not quite become should either. Should is actually pretty much a conditional statement. So we actually have to use should as an additional auxiliary verb on a present perfect constitution I should have said (or in this case I should not have said) But if you you look at the answer above this discussion, Duo has opted to show a translation that sort of avoids the whole should mess in English. It says I was not supposed to. That is of course the same as saying I shouldn't have in most cases. We do tend more to say I wasn't supposed to when there was a set, spoken instruction while should not have can just mean that it didn't match our own sense of right and wrong. But essentially they are the same.
But whenever you see would, should or could you should think conditional first. Would is the default auxiliary verb in English to represent the conditional. But should indicates the conditional form of the modal verb deber and could indicates the conditional form of poder. Only the perfect tenses can make these past.
Also, it allows 'I should not have said anything' as correct but not 'I should not say anything'.
Why is it allowing the former phrase? There is no present participle anywhere in that Spanish sentence.
I do not understand why, 'I was not supposed to say anything' is accepted but 'I should not say anything' is not. Can somebody please explain?
Thanks in advance :)
It's a tense issue. I was not supposed to say anything is in the past progressive. The past progressive is often the appropriate tense to translate the Spanish imperfect. But your sentence is actually conditional. It is the correct translation of Yo no debería decir nada. Spanish modal verbs are more regular than English modal verbs, even the irregular ones. Most modal verbs have limited tense options. The verb can has the past tense could, but that is also conditional so you need to use the conditional perfect for the past of the conditional could. Should is even a little stranger. Should is essentially always the conditional, so when you say, I should not say anything, that's essentially the present looking at possible future action, which is essentially conditional. To make this a past tense statement you use the conditional perfect. I should not have said anything. The problem there is that sentence would not use the imperfect in Spanish. The Spanish would also use the conditional perfect because the assumption upon hearing this is that you actually did say something. In the imperfect/past perfect that is not necessarily true, although without context it might be assumed.
The issue here very much centers on the word should. Deber is generally translated as must, ought to, or should. Of those three, most English speakers would say must is the stand out. We reserve that for a somewhat more extreme obligation or requirement. But if you look at that list you will also notice that sticking any of those in all the tenses that deber slips into is difficult.
Thank you Lynette. You always set out things so clearly. English is my native language but I would never have been able to isolate all the intricacies of this particular section. Are you a teacher of English grammar?
Not officially, though I have taught a lot of it. I just have had a lifetime love of language and I did major in English in college with a concentration in Linguistics. But learning other languages is actually the best way to learn the grammar of one's native language. You never understand how something really comes together until you get assumptions you never even knew you had questioned because the new language works differently.
Surely deber means to must. To say should, ought to or supposed you must use the conditional. In the past you have to use had to. But DL won't accept it.
I've changed my mind. Deber can mean to owe or have a personal obligatio to, ie to ought to or to should. But to mean must in a past tense we would have to use had to I think.
That's present tense. English modal verbs are incomplete compared to other verbs. They don't firm past tenses the same way. Most English modal verbs have only 2 conjugations. The present tense doesn't change even in the third person and the past tense and the conditional are generally the same. Can becomes could, will becomes would. But there are several different ways to express deber in the present. It is must or ought to. But in the past you have to either use the past and conditional form should in the present perfect or either of the present perfect forms ought to have or must have. But the translation given above is less obviously in the present perfect. Duo very much tries to match tenses, but with modal verbs it is difficult. There is no single English verb which expresses exactly what debía does here, but the verb phrase was not supposed to works.
I put, "I should not say anything." and accept that it was wrong. The correct answer that I was given was, "I did not have to say anything." Very different from, "I was not supposed to say anything." What's up with that?
What's up with that is that deber does not quite match up well with any one English word. You have to look out for that in learning a language. Some words, both cognates and not, line up as a perfect match with a word in the other language, but others can have different meanings, added meanings or more limited meanings. Deber implies some sort of obligation or necessity. In the Spanish course, Duo generally translates it as must in the present tense. But in the French course, the related verb devoir is translated as to have to. The difference is only that Spanish also has the construction tener + que + infinitive which is more logical to us as to have to. What you have to remember is that should is not like could in English. Should is ONLY conditional. Its only past tense form is the conditional perfect, which would also be conditional perfect in Spanish. So this sentence does have a small ambiguity in Spanish. To express the fact that you didn't have an obligation to do something you would say I didn't have to. But to say you had an affirmative obligation/requirement NOT TO do something,, you would say I was not supposed to. They are different constructions in English. But in Spanish you are negating the obligation in the past in both meanings and they would both use deber. What people often forget is how many sentences in their native language might be ambiguous should they hear them out of context.
Yes, but the sentence wasn't "I should not say anything". It was I should not HAVE SAID anything. Where is the "have said?"
English has a problem with modal verbs in different tenses. Consider the following examples using another modal verbs I can go to the store. Puedo ir a la tienda. This is a present tense ability. I could go to the store. Podría ir a la tienda. This is a conditional possibility. It is not a past tense. I could have gone to the store. Podia ir a la tienda. This is actually simply the past tense possibility. In Spanish the verb poder has a full set of conjugations, so this can be in the imperfect. But in English the only way to insure a past tense meaning is to use the present perfect. Só in English the past tense and the conditional perfect are the same, but for these odd verbs only. Consider the future. Here we actually even have to change to verb. I will be able to go to the store. Podré ir a la tienda.
I choose poder to illustrate only because deber, which simply indicates obligation, has different translations like must, have to, ought to and should, but the concept is the same. Putting this sentence in the positive to avoid the unnecessary elements we have Debo decir algo. I must say something. Deberia decir algo. In the past you have more choices. You can say I had to, it means the same thing, but we generally think tenia/tuve que for that. Otherwise we have to you the perfect. I ought to have or I should have. But in Spanish there is no such issue in the simple past. Only in the conditional do you need haber to make a past conditional.
I don't know if I gave too much or too little information, but I hope it helps.
Creo que la traducción mas adecuada para esta frase es "yo no debería haber dicho nada". Yo distingo el uso del modal "should" y el presente perfecto "have said".
I also said "I should not say anything" and the correct answer was given as "I should not have said anything". How can you tell which translation should be given without more, because I don't think the translation that duolingo says is correct is actually correct or the only translation..
It's in the imperfect past and sadly when you use the word should or shall there is no direct imperfect (or perfect) equivalent so you have to say I should have.
I think the construction (in either language) is goofy and in many of the comments the angels are slipping off the head of the pin....(English attempt at describing trivia) ...