"Debes defender a los trabajadores."

Translation:You have to defend the workers.

October 11, 2013



Can someone please clarify the difference between debes and tienes que. Thank you.

April 16, 2015


While we can be confident that "have to" and "tener que" are equivalent, there are lots of words in English that have various levels of obligation - must, shall, should, ought to, need to. The problem is that there is only one word in Spanish to translate all of these - deber. So while deber can be as strong as 'must' it can also be as weak as 'ought to'. You see then that the main difference between deber and tener que is that deber is broader and it can be difficult to know what level of obligation it's referring to without context.

December 20, 2016


Given that deber has a breadth of meaning in Spanish I wish the Duolingo would accept a similar breadth of English translations. For instance, you must defend the workers was marked incorrect.

May 22, 2019


Thank you. Have a lingot

September 2, 2018


Very well explained. Thank you.

August 14, 2019


I often think of "deber" as an "ought to do something" (i.e., moral obligation) vrs "have to do something" (a necessity) in order to use deber and tener correctly. Just a thought. :)

May 28, 2015


I agree that "ought to" is correct. Unfortunately, DL did not accept it in this instance. I did report it.

May 27, 2018


I think "deber" is much stronger than "tener que"

"deber" - to must

"tener que" - to have to

April 16, 2015


"deber de" implies a duty(should) whereas tener que implies a necessity to do something

April 17, 2015


Thank you everyone. That makes sense to me now.

April 20, 2015


IN addition, it helps to realize that our word "debt" is a cognate of "deber." "Deber" means to "owe a debt". It can be moral or legal/financial.

May 27, 2018


Both derived from the same Latin roots

May 27, 2018


If that's true in Spanish then your translations to English are poor because in English there is no difference in strength between must and have to.

December 20, 2016


This is somewhat subjective but I don't entirely agree with this. I think "must" implies more urgency/strength, or it tends to be used more in that way.


"I have to go to the bathroom." I feel like I need to pee.

"I must go to the bathroom." I am about to pee in my pants.

December 20, 2016


I'm glad I wasn't the only one to notice. This sentence is incorrect. Debes means either that "you should" or "you owe." Whereas "tienes que" would be more "you must."

April 23, 2017


Yes!!! Please!!!

September 2, 2018


...from those tight-fisted capitalists!

July 31, 2017


We must distribute the lingots equally!

August 10, 2017


I was always taught to use the English equivalent of "ought" for "deber" because there is a diffence between "ought to" and "have to". This was taught to me this way by 3 different professors and several native speaking neighbors of mine from places all over including Gualemala, Colombia, and Mexico. So I have to wonder why DL sometimes accepts "ought" for deber, and other times it does not. I have already complained many times, but I am wondering if there is anyone else out there that thinks this same way...

January 5, 2016


Every thing I have seen regarding "deber" defines it as must, ought, or should. It seems to me that use of any of the three should be accepted.

September 1, 2018


I agree. the modal verb deber can have different shades of meaning in English that are only clear in context.

However, in many of Duo's drills they use "should" and "must" to distinguish between tenses. So, you will encounter a lot of "must" usage with present indicative (debes, debo, etc.) and "should" when they want you to use the conditional (deberías, debería, etc.). That convention is good enough for drilling on the different tenses, but it doesn't really help our understanding of the meaning of deber in actual use.

September 10, 2018


Would you need to defend also be a valid translation?

October 11, 2013


Hola Amigo duolearner12345: No. That would be: "Necesitas defender...."

November 7, 2013


But you have to and you need to essentially mean the same thing.

November 7, 2013


If it looks like a duck it's a duck not a goose

November 21, 2013


Close enough.

November 21, 2013


In other places, Duo will use "tener que" for "need to."

However, I will translate "necesitar" as "need", and "tener" as "have." I assume the writer used one word over the other for a reason, and as a translator, I should not, willy-nilly, change the word that the writer/author chose.

March 2, 2017


only have to has more external subtext.

December 19, 2013


No, they are not. One, you have to do it, the other, you need to do it. Not the same.

October 29, 2014

December 19, 2013


If you have no close connection to these workers can you omit the "a" that precedes "los"?

May 22, 2014


we always say "Defender algo" (something) and "defender A alguien" (somebody/someone)

February 17, 2015


Creo que esta explicación es correcta

April 12, 2015


I'm very bad at grammar and am struggling to learn all the conjugations. The chart shows "debes" as a present tense form. Can someone explain why a correct answer is "Yo should defend the workers"? That seems future tense to me. I would have said "Deberias...".

September 23, 2015


"Should" started out as a conditional form of "shall" but it has almost completely overtaken "shall".

When you're using "should", if you can replace it with "be supposed to" then it's non-conditional and if you can replace it with "would be supposed to" then it's conditional.

December 20, 2016


Employers is the same that workers?

January 22, 2016


No, "employer" is the person or company that employs (gives work to) one or more people (called employees or workers http://populo.org.uk/uncategorized/differences-between-an-employee-worker-and-self-employed-why-you-need-to-know/)

January 22, 2016


Ty madam

January 22, 2016


debes defender= you better defend, is very common in English. Is it the same?

July 18, 2016


it does sound common ... better is " you had better defend..."

May 17, 2018


Duo accepted my response "You should defend the workers" however this seems very different than saying "You have to defend the workers." Thoughts?

July 21, 2016


I have trouble with this as well. It seems like "deber" can mean both should and must, which in English have meaningfully different definitions. The answer seems to be in the use of different "moods." I don't know it well enough to explain myself, but I found this elsewhere and think it helps some:

"Tú debes comer". Literally means "You must eat". Present Indicative. "Tú deberías comer". Literally means "You should eat". Conditional Indicative.

So basically it sounds like the conditional mood softens the meaning a bit to make it more like the English "should."

September 10, 2016


You have to defend the laborers.

February 18, 2017


I read the comments and am still confused.

March 25, 2017


... dijo Castro

May 13, 2017


Why isn't "laborers" acceptable"?

November 5, 2017


Would "employees" not be a typical translation for "trabajadores"? I feel as though, in English, workers and employees mean essentially the same thing. I know that "empleado" is maybe a more common translation for "employee," just wasn't sure why "trabajadores" couldn't also mean "employee."

March 15, 2018


it can

May 17, 2018


"You should defend the workers." It is in the "hover-text" after all.

May 14, 2018


When does "deber" translate to "should" vs "must"?

July 11, 2018


Debes can be translated, "you should"

August 16, 2018


So........therefore my answer of ought to should have been correct

August 27, 2018


as should any 'obligation' verb :-) Help DUO improve by reporting cases where you are confident that your construction is one that would be used by a well-spoken user of the language.

August 27, 2018


Union yes! Diga "si" al sindicato!

March 15, 2019


I used "should" it was not accepted

March 30, 2019



May 2, 2019


Whyyyyy is "You should..." cosnsidered wrong to "Debes"?

May 27, 2019

  1. It's not wrong.
  2. On some levels Duolingo translates deber with must instead of should. On other levels they translate deber with must. Then sometimes they translate it as ought.
  3. Duo is usually, but not invariably, consistent in usage within the same level.

The result is that you've got to remember "what Duo wants" for certain levels but explore online or with native speakers how it would be said in the real world -- or that part of the real spanish speaking world you want to be in. Buena suerte!

May 27, 2019


I said, "You should defend the workers." In the dictionary, it lists "have to," "should," "Must," and "ought to," under the same portion "to be used as auxiliary verbs."

How are we to know which one it is, whether it should be "have to" or "should?"

June 2, 2019
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