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"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.


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.


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.


And if "deber" can also cover "should," then "you should defend the workers" is also correct.


Thank you. Have a lingot


Very well explained. Thank you.


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. :)


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


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

"deber" - to must

"tener que" - to have to


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


Thank you everyone. That makes sense to me now.


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.


Both derived from the same Latin roots


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.


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.


No you're equating "have to" and "need to". "need to" is clearly weaker as you've said but "have to" is at the same level as "must". Of course usage can vary but if someone said to me "I have to go to the bathroom" I would assume that they had no choice.


Howdy ya'll,

I'm one of the referred to hundreds of native english (US) speakers Zach58696 knows and speaks to on a regular basis.

What you have to understand is common use, and English speakers in the US seem not to worry too much about literal meanings. Meaning, "have to" in the US is used as "must", but it's also used to a lesser degree in common dialogue and you don't have to use it that way.

BenYoung84, you are right, "have to" in english should mean "must" when being used, but it doesn't have to. More times than not, it means "must", but we (in the US) will commonly use it differently.

You have to be here to understand.

But not really.


I am just saying how it is colloquially used among the hundreds of native english (US) speakers I know and speak to on a regular basis, myself included. Like I said, it is a bit subjective, but that is certainly the more common usage from my 35 years of experience.

That said, using "must" at all is pretty rare. It isn't used all that much in modern casual speaking.


No. Other way around. Deber is something that you don't have to do, but that you should do. Tener que is have to. The confusion lies in these exercises where they are translating deber as have to.


I don't think it's about which is stronger as much as the kinds of motivation you are trying to express. If you want to talk about obligation, then "deber" is a better choice than "tener que." If you're talking about something you are determined to do, then "tener que" is better than "deber."

You could use "tener que" to talk about the need to pick up some milk when you're running low, for example. The sense of necessity there is different from needing to get off the tracks when a train is bearing down on you, but "tener que" fits both instances. Likewise, I don't think zealots treat obligations to their moral code as optional, but you'd still use "deber" to talk about them.


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."


Yes!!! Please!!!


...from those tight-fisted capitalists!


We must distribute the lingots equally!


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...".


"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.


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...


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.


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.


Union yes! Diga "si" al sindicato!


Would you need to defend also be a valid translation?


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


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


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


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.


only have to has more external subtext.


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


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


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


Creo que esta explicación es correcta


Employers is the same that workers?


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/)


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


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


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


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."


You have to defend the laborers.


I read the comments and am still confused.


Why isn't "laborers" acceptable"?


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."


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


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


Debes can be translated, "you should"


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


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.


I used "should" it was not accepted


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

  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!


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?"


why was 'should' not accepted? I will report.


also, 'ought to defend' not accepted


I read that deber in the present tense should always translate to "must" therefore instead of confusing us with translating this to "have," you should force us to only input "must" in this translation imo.


Deber can be translated as should. You should defend the workers should also be correct.


Why isn't "should defend the workers" correct?


¿Cuál es la diferencia entre deber hacer algo y deber de hacer algo? En unas oraciones de esta lección se utiliza deber y en otras deber de.


I'm going to answer in English for the benefit of others. Adding the preposition creates a sense of possibility or it removes the sense of obligation.


if the verb 'deber' translates to owe or SHOULD, and 'debes' is the second person singular of that verb, then "you should defend the workers" ought to be accepted


March 2018: "You should defend the workers" was accepted.


no it was NOT 26 Jul 2018

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