"Él nunca debió leer mi diario."

Translation:He never should have read my diary.

May 29, 2013

63 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SamuelOrr

I would have thought that the correct spanish sentence would have required the use of some form of the auxilary verb "haber" and the past participle of "leer" ???

November 21, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

It's true that, translating back from the English past perfect, “He should have never read my diary.” can also be rendered in the Spanish past perfect as ‘Él nunca debe haber leido mi diario.’. But an important lesson of this exercise is that the Spanish simple past ‘Él nunca debe haber leido mi diario.’ cannot be translated to English simple past because the English modal verbs “should” and “must” have no past-tense forms: You can say “He should [never] read…” or “He must [never] read…”, but there is no *“He shoulded never read…” or *“He musted never read…”. So the best one can do in translating it to English is to use the past perfect “He should have never…” (or “He should never have…” or “He shouldn't ever have…”).

November 21, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SamuelOrr

Andreas: Thank you for the excellent explanation. I do not believe I would ever have figured it out on my own.

November 23, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luvlearning

Nor would I. Now I just have to remember it! :o

February 12, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/pmm123

Trying to match up the right form of "deber" for "should" has always driven me crazy and now I know why.

March 29, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kishoreholla

same here.

November 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Eric.Winter

My doubt is, is there any semantical difference between "no debió leer" vs. "no debe haber leído"? And then there's "no debería haber". Waaaa

January 9, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/22879

Native speakers will say commonly say "no debió leer mi diario". However, it does not fully express that the action happened in the past, as "no debió HABER leído mi diario" does. Very few people would actually go with the second option..

Now, "debería" EXPRESSES that the action can happen in the present or in the future (no deberías leer ese diario = you shouldn't READ that diary), and "haber" expresses either existence or past, which is why I would recommend that you not mix"debería" and "haber" if you refer to the past:

"no deberías haber leído" (past). It feels unnatural to me. "no debería HABER tanta gente aquí" (existence): THERE shouldn't BE so many people here.

September 11, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ellenkeyne

But what's wrong with "He never had to read ..."?

June 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dimwit720

I asked the same question 4 years ago and got a couple of useful answers: " AndreasWitnstein ‘Él nunca tuvo que leer mi diario.’, from ‘tener que’ = “to have to”. Turtle492 But doesn't deber also mean must? I'm very confused here. nueby Deber and tener que are quite close in the affirmative, but become very different in the negative, just like "must not" is very far from "[to] not have to"."

June 21, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndyCoogan1

If you put he shouldn't it get marked wrong

October 26, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CNyE

@SamuelOrr clever!

September 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/paayzer

Why the right answer is in a perfect tense? Why the right answer isn't instead "He should never read my diary"?

May 29, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

Assuming you mean “read” in the past tense (“did read”), the reason is just that English has no such construct.

June 1, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GrnpcFTMarkRMOwl

The past tense in English is "should (never) have read" or "was (never) supposed to have read." (Teaching ESL abroad in South America has helped me get a swing of dome of these rules a bit.....

May 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

I believe paayzer wants to understand why, when the Spanish original uses the simple past ‘debió leer’ (rather than the compound perfect ‘ha debido leer’), the English translation uses the compound perfect “should have read”. The answer is that English does not have a past-tense form of “should”. There is no *“shoulded”; nor is there *“oughted” or *“musted”.

Historically, “should” was the past-tense form of “shall”, but in modern English, on its own it refers to the present or future.

May 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaDhyan

In the UK, we have a colloquial, (probably horrendously incorrect grammatically), way of saying this, which is "He didn't ought to read my diary". However, time is still a problem here, because it infers that 'he should never, at any time, read my diary', not 'he should not have read my diary' indicating that he read it once and shouldn't have. Perhaps this is the clue to the true sense of the sentence. Because the auxilliary verb is in the preterite it makes it a one time event. That doesn't explain to me, though, why 'leer' is in the infinitive, not the past preterite. I suppose this is just the way they say it in Spanish. Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong here. I obviously need help! :D

July 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DaveHarris809825

That particular construction is indeed horrendous and not grammatically acceptabe, but there IS a way of using "ought":

"He ought never to have read my diary".

Might this further help clarify what's going on here? I'm also a UK native speaker.

August 25, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jfGor

Interesting "He didn't ought to read my diary". As a USA speaker, never heard it. In the South USA, very often I hear 'he didn't use to read my diary, but that is not the gist of the sentence. I just thought I would throw that at you.

First of all, an infinitive will follow a conjugated verb, like we have here. Second of all, there is no way to express in English 'deber' in the past except when it means 'to owe'. So, IMO we have to use the past perfect.

Edit:oops! part of this has already been answered well by AndreasWitnstein above.

August 24, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/GrnpcFTMarkRMOwl

Very good points. I would just phrase it to clarify the distinction of the term "translation" and the fact that "(current) English USAGE for the simple past of should is the compound modal perfect." There still is some of that standard simple past in the cases of "will to would" and "can to could," although "could" has some tricks to it. One consideration regarding "should," perhaps the historic past-tense was shifted to differentiate it from the subjunctive past to mean the future, in historic literary conditional phrases like "If he should breach the fortress wall, I would just let him into the feast anyway!" (like the contemporary use of the past tense to mean a present or future hypothetical....)

May 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/cal7

why isn't 'he must never have read my diary' correct?

August 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

That means “It must be true that he never read my diary.” The English auxiliary “must” is defective; in the sense of “to have to”, it has no past-tense forms. “[Someone] must have [+past participle]” is a fixed expression meaning “It must be the case that [someone] [+past tense].”

August 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chaolan77

'He never should'-- can't I leave off the 'very part?

February 20, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/shahrukhs

Somebody's gonna get hurt real bad!

November 9, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/keith.e.sanders

Lots of good discussion here. However, my issue is with the fact that the recommended translations (when I mouse-over the word "debió") all refer to the "owe" sense of "deber". I think the Duolingo volunteer responsible for this sentence needs to tweak the sentence entry so that the "should(n't) have" translation is proposed first.

September 27, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dimwit720

My translation (marked wrong) was "He never had to read my diary", which is a very different meaning. How would that be translated into Spanish?

January 10, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

‘Él nunca tuvo que leer mi diario.’, from ‘tener que’ = “to have to”.

January 11, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Turtle492

But doesn't deber also mean must? I'm very confused here.

June 6, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nueby

Deber and tener que are quite close in the affirmative, but become very different in the negative, just like "must not" is very far from "[to] not have to".

September 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dimwit720

10 Q!

January 11, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/andy16000

Also my translation because I am not an English native speaker and I believe this cannot be translated into English. Just try to understand the context to learn the difference between deber and tener que. After all we are here to learn Spanish and not to get overwhelmed by English grammar details:-). But sometimes -altough it doesn't help my Spanish- it improves my English which is important too.

November 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hobodow

I don't understand what is meant by " modal".

June 17, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaDhyan

Neither did I, Hobodow. I think it's a defect in the English teaching curriculum - (at least it was when I was at school, maybe it's changed now). I don't think we were taught the names of verb tenses in English class. My Spanish teacher said that English students had the most difficulty understanding the structure of another language because they did not properly understand their own, so I assume that this is a national problem. I just Googled it and found the answer straight away. Modal verbs are auxiliary verbs that express a possibility that the main verb of the sentence does not. E.g. I "ought to"/"had to"/"should"/"can" pay my gas bill. If you still don't get it, why don't you look it up for yourself? I also believe the term 'modal' is somewhat outdated and might be helpful to look up 'auxiliary verbs'. My Spanish Grammar doesn't mention 'modal' at all.

June 23, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

A modal verb is an auxiliary verb, or helper verb, that expresses the so-called mood of the main verb it modifies. English verbs only have three moods: indicative (= factual statement, assertion, or question), imperative (= command), and subjunctive (= counterfactual). The main English modal verbs are “can”, “could”; “may”, “might”; “shall”, “should”; “will”, “would”, and “must”.

July 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Adriano732737

i think that you will find that English also has a conditional mood..."In grammar, mood is used to refer to a verb category or form which indicates whether the verb expresses a fact (the indicative mood), a command (the imperative mood), a question (the interrogative mood), a condition (the conditional mood), or a wish or possibility (the subjunctive mood).

The conditional mood is made from the auxiliary verb would (also should with I and we) and the infinitive of the other verb without to. It’s used to make requests and to refer to situations which are uncertain or which depend on something else happening or being the case:

I would like some coffee please.

If he’d arrived earlier, we would have had time for dinner.

We would live in Spain if we had the money.

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/grammar/moods

August 24, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WChorneau

The time is indefinite, so why is the preterite (debió) used instead of the imperfect?

July 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

The adverb ‘nunca’ is indefinite when referring to past non-occurrence, but when used with ‘deber’, refers to past actual occurrence. If that past occurrence was punctual, ‘deber’ takes the preterite; if it was durative, it takes the imperfect past.

So «Él nunca debió leer mi diario.» = “He never should have read my diary.” implies that he “read” the speaker's diary at one particular point in time; while «Él nunca debía leer mi diario.» = “He never should have been reading my diary.” implies that he “was reading” or “used to read” the diary over an extended period.

July 2, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaDhyan

Thanks Andreas, for your help in explaining so clearly. I really appreciate all the help from this discussion forum. I've learned so much from it and if I have any questions during a practice module on DL I always know I'll get some answers here.

July 2, 2015

[deactivated user]

    This is a weird translation of this sentence !!

    November 2, 2015

    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jfGor

    How is that? For you, how should it have been translated? It helps when one gives examples.

    November 2, 2015

    [deactivated user]

      I agree !

      November 4, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dare3966

      When I write should DL says must, so I write must then DL says should????? So what should I do I mean what must I do, or??

      July 9, 2016

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/StacyBursuk

      I feel like they are rushing to try and teach too much in this section. All of these new concepts need more broken down and separate coverage before they are thrown together.

      March 7, 2019

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/axl.c

      Can it mean that I am wondering whether he has read my diary, but I finally become confident that "He has never been able to read my diary."?

      November 4, 2013

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

      That would be ‘Él nunca pudo leer mi diario.’.

      ‘deber’=“to have to | must”; ‘poder’=“to be able to | can”.

      November 4, 2013

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/axl.c

      ok thanks

      November 4, 2013

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Riich3lle

      I don't get it, shouldn't it be: Él nunca ha debió leído mi diario, as in "he never should 'have read' my diary?"

      July 12, 2014

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndreasWitnstein

      The problem is that “should” and all other English modal verbs are defective verbs that can't be conjugated (for tense, person, or number), whereas Spanish modals are full verbs. Otherwise, we could say *“He never shoulded to read my diary.”, as we can with full verbs like “want”, in “He never wanted to read my diary.”.

      In the Spanish sentence, the verb ‘deber’ is already conjugated as 3rd-person singular preterite ‘debió’, so it doesn't make sense to also conjugate ‘leer’ as 3rd-person singular past perfect ‘ha leído’. In both languages, only one verb in a compound verb is ever conjugated.

      July 3, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MaDhyan

      AndreasWtnstein: That is a brilliant explanation! Very helpful. Thank you so much!

      July 4, 2015

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/22879

      "él nunca debió HABER LEÍDO mi diario".

      September 11, 2016

      https://www.duolingo.com/profile/beantorrent

      Not sure why the the hints for "debio" don't provide "should" as a hint. "Owed" is an entirely unrelated definition.

      February 14, 2016

      [deactivated user]

        Debió, translation, - owed, due ........ How does this translate to this sentence ??????

        February 27, 2016

        https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dimwit720

        Another (but related) use of deber is for obligation or duty, and in that sense it works like English "should". You should do / have done something. You should not do / have done something.

        February 27, 2016

        [deactivated user]

          Thank you. Seems to be many differ translations to different sentences with the same word I am finding. Again thank you for this explanation !

          February 28, 2016

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jfGor

          Deber can translate into English as must, as in 'Debo ser responsable. I must be responsible'. It can also be used with (de) to translate into English to mean must as in 'he debido (de) perderlo I must have lost it' and also should or ought as in 'como debe ser as it ought to or should be'.

          http://www.spanishdict.com/translate/deber

          February 28, 2016

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Pato_Tonto

          The voice sounded so odd when it said "debio leer"; it sounds more like "debiolair" rather than "debió leer".

          September 8, 2016

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/neenerella

          Sometimes I have trouble hearing the distinction between "b" and "v" sounds in the audio clues. Anyone else? Mostly from the male voice.

          October 13, 2016

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dimwit720

          This is normal because in Spanish there is often little or no difference between the sound of these two letters, and to an English speaker it can sound like one or the other, or somewhere in-between depending on the regional accent, speaker, and specific word. Once you know and expect this, it causes less problems.

          October 14, 2016

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/me9GVj

          It is "mi", not "me" as it is a posession.

          November 20, 2016

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HocpU

          My translation: He should never read my diary. Switched the order of never and should. That's not correct, as well? If not, why?

          December 2, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ellenkeyne

          Your sentence is in the present tense; the Spanish sentence is in the past.

          December 2, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HocpU

          I typed it incorrectly. I meant to put: He should never have read my diary.
          Would THAT have been correct? I must be over-spanished. :o) And, thank you.

          December 2, 2018

          https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ellenkeyne

          It’s correct English. Report it next time :)

          December 2, 2018
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