"Usted no debió escribir eso."
Translation:You should not have written that.
It's technically grammatically correct, but it's incorrect because it has a completely different meaning. debió is the past tense which is what "have written" means in English, even though "have written" is the past perfect tense. You need to approximate tenses sometimes because Spanish has an extra tense that doesn't exist in English.
This only seems difficult because English grammar is clutzy and awkward compared to Spanish so in direct translations you need to change the tense of the verbs in English sometimes. Once I realized this it made this unit sooo much easier.
TL;DR: Don't think in English, think what the sentence means in Spanish. THEN compose your English sentence independent of the literal translation.
I know this is all old, but I want to clarify on Kortaggio's post for other's sake, because it's both prominent and ambiguous. The preterite deber + infinitive construction is used to express disapproval with something that really shouldn't have been done -- as in, it was bad that it was done at all. "You did not have to/need to write that" may be a perfect grammatical English translation (preterite --> preterite), but it gets the level of force wrong. It's too neutral, or even nice, the sort of thing you'd say to someone who did something needlessly. In spanish, this sense is conveyed by the preterite deber + haber + participle, which would give us "Usted no debió haber escrito eso."
So, yeah, in sum, English uses the preterite ("You didn't need to") to be nice, and the present perfect ("You shouldn't have") to be disapporiving. In Spanish, on the other hand, the pretertite ("No debió") is disapproving, and this other weird construction ("Debió haber + participle) is nice.
Like Kortaggio said, it's best to learn to think in Spanish, and not in English in Spanish!
Sorry, I am a native Spanish language speacker, and I have to say you are right and you are wrong, both. Both tense "pretérito perfecto" (haber escrito = have written) and "preterito indefinido (escribió = wrote, not constructed with the auxiliar verb "to have") are right. The restriction refers the negative verb form "you should not" (no debió, which indicate it is the "indefinido" tense). Then, if you continue with "haber escrito" (have written), or with "escribir" (write), there are a significative difference between them, "haber escrito" means that the action took place in a closer time ago than "escribir" ("haber" and "escribir" in infinitive as it is a subordinate phrase of the verb "should") which refers the action took place in a much longer time ago. Both are equaly disapproving. I beg your perdon for my poor English, but I am here to learn it better. I hope I had expressed myself clearly.
Don't think in English, think what the sentence means in Spanish. THEN compose your English sentence independent of the literal translation.
Kortaggio, that makes perfect sense to me and certainly how it should be done. However, if I'd stuck to writing half of these answers in correct English, I wouldn't have got very far in the course. Quite often, you have to know you're right, but write what DL wants you to write just to get through.
'clutzy and awkward'? No, at least hardly more than any other language.
Both these forms are used to talk about past events, but there is sometimes a difference in use. When we say that someone should not have done something, it means that they did it, but it was not desirable. Didn't have to is also sometimes used in this way but it's not case in this example:
Example about should not have:
Vendedor: Ya envié la encomienda, escribí en su envoltorio lo que contiene, así que no tendré problemas más adelante con la aduana.
Secretario de la agencia de envíos: Usted no debío escribir eso, ya no es necesario porque desde hace dos meses esa información se envía por correo electrónico.
But we also use didn't have to say that something was not necessary under circumstances where it was not done:
Example about did not have to:
Vendedor: Ya envié la encomienda pero sin escribir en su envoltorio lo que contiene, ¿cree que tendré problemas más adelante con la aduana?
Secretario de la agencia de envíos: Claro que no, usted no tenía que escribir eso, ya no es necesario porque desde hace dos meses esa información se envía por correo por correo electrónico.
Paquete que se envía por medio de un servicio de transporte.
I'm so confused. When does 'deber' mean 'must' and when does it mean 'should'?
This is just the third person past tense of 'deber', right? So why doesn't it say 'you didn't have to write that'? Or if you prefer, 'you didn't [non-existent past tense of 'must'] write that'.
I find this one very confusing and it's not due to a supposedly weird English grammar logic, since my native language is actually Portuguese. :-) If I had gotten the English sentence "you shouldn't have written that" I would've translated it as "usted no debería haber escrito eso".
After some research, it seems they're both the same. Just found an article that says, after the soccer match was over and Spain had lost, that "Casillas no debió jugar" (headline) and that "Casillas no debería haber jugado" (on the text).
I guess nobody will ever hear me say the first one, but I get its meaning of it a bit better now. I think...
Like the verb "ought," "must" is also a defective verb. English defective verbs don't have tense. Another way of putting it is that they (must AND ought) can be used with verbs of any other tense. If you are looking for a correct shortcut, just translate any tense of "deber" as "ought." Also, remember that "ought" is used for obligations that are optional while "must" is used for obligations that are mandatory.
@Theo1289 and jlpettersson.
The phrase "you should (not) have ..." is what is called a "Modal Perfect Structure". Modal verbs do not contain Tense, they are called modal because they convey MODALITY or meaning.
As modal verbs do not contain tense the only way to position them in time is to use another aspect structure. This structure, for English, is the perfect structure.
Thus the modal perfect structure used allows a reflection on the past.
The phrase "you should (not) write" also contains a modal BUT is contains a different aspect structure, here simple. Modal simple structure do NOT offer a reflection on the past.
Thus, don't confuse modality with tense and tense with aspect.
Another definition of "modal" is "mood." IMO, it is misleading to define "modality" as "meaning" because the mood is what the speaker is FEELING about the meaning. Modal verbs in English are: do, can, may, could, might, will, would, shall, should, ought, and must.
Some examples: I like cake. (Statement of fact of my liking cake) I DO like cake. (I am corrrecting someone who said I didn't or I'm being emphatic) I CAN/MAY like cake. (Statement that my liking of cake varies according to unknown factors) I COULD/MIGHT like cake. (Statement that at least one specific factor influences when I like cake) I WILL like cake. (Statement that I know I will like cake in the future. ALTERNATIVELY, statement that I will force myself to like cake in the future) I WOULD like cake. (Statement that I know I will like cake if a condition is met in the future. ALTERNATELY, statement that I liked cake in the past when a condition was met) I SHALL like cake (Statement that I have made a choice to like cake) I SHOULD like cake. (Statement of prediction or voluntary obligation) I OUGHT to like cake. (Statement that I know that I should like cake, whether or not I do or don't) I MUST like cake. (Some unknown thing compels me to like cake)
Your answer was graded as wrong because you omitted the preposition "to." This English preposition is necessary in the translation because English grammar considers the phrase "to have written that" to be an infinitive phrase (to have written) + a direct object pronoun (that), all of which are together acting as the direct object of the defective verb "ought." The negation, which is the adverb "not," comes before the infinitive phrase.
Would someone care to explain to me the difference between these 3 sentences?
-Usted no debió escribir eso. -Usted no debía escribir eso. -Usted no debería escribir eso.
I think I still don't quite understand. For some reason the first one sounds kinda odd to my ears, in spite of my 1st language being Portuguese, which supposedly has a similar grammar structure to that of Spanish.