должен = should/must

Discussion in 'Русский (Russian)' started by Memphis9489, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. In English, the words "should" and "must" are not quite synonymous. They are similar but have distinctly different connotations.

    For instance, take these two English sentences:

    "You must pay for that."


    "You should pay for that."

    The first sentence, using "must", is stronger. The individual to whom it is directed would have the sense that he has no choice, he is under obligation to pay. In the second sentence, using "should", is not quite as strong. It's more of a suggestion that the item should be paid for - but not completely obligatory.

    Do Russians have a way of conveying this subtle, yet distinct, difference?

    I would probably say, "Вы должны заплатить за это."

    How would a Russian interpret the above sentence - more like the stronger "must" or the weaker "should"?
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2014
  2. learnerr Senior Member

    Yes. You could use as a means to explicitly do that the word «обязаны». Вы обязаны за него заплатить (you must pay for him).
    As for "вы должны заплатить за эту вещь", I would interpret it as an obligation (like must) because of the context, but non-strong sensually (like should), because nothing like "обязаны" was used. Russian, in this sense, is a lot of a sensual language, it has the habit of preferring to draw differences where different sensations of the world are expected.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2014
  3. flance_j Member

    "You must pay for that." = Вы должны заплатить за это = Вы обязаны заплатить за это

    "You should pay for that." = Вы должны заплатить за это = Вам следует заплатить за это

    So you can use "должны" in both sentences
    or make it more precise... [ Did I write it correct? :) With no mistakes?) ]
  4. Budspok Senior Member

    Lübertsy, Russian Federation
    You must… = Вы должнЫ… , Вам надлежИт…, Вам дОлжно, Вы обЯзаны…, Вам нАдобно…, Вам необходИмо…, Вам трЕбуется

    You should = Вам слЕдует…
  5. WillyAbs Member

    My suggestion:
    "You must pay for that." = "Вы должны за это заплатить"/"Вам надо за это заплатить"


    "You should pay for that." = "Вы должны бы за это заплатить"/"Вам надо бы за это заплатить"
  6. WillyAbs Member

    "Вам следует" is not weaker than "Вы должны"
  7. Generally, Russian modal verb system is much less developed than the one in English, so if we do have differences, they are not so explicit as in English. Basically, the only modal verbs we have are долженствовать (which has a personal form of должен/должна/должно) and мочь (могу/можешь/может etc). However, unlike in English, we also have other modal words that are not actually verbs (Russian linguistic academicians are still unable to define a morphology class for them), like можно, нельзя, нужно, надо, следует, придётся etc. which are widely used as equivalents to English modals.
    In your case, you can render MUST as "должны", "обязаны", "обязательно нужно" etc. depending on the context. As for SHOULD, it could be "следует", "следовало бы", "надо бы" or even "(я) бы посоветовал вам" (as should can also mean advice in some cases), so again context is king.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014
  8. It is. Должны means a kind of obligation or an order, while следует is a piece of advice.
  9. Boris Tatarenko

    Boris Tatarenko Senior Member


    "Should" is weaker than "must" and we translate "should" as "следует" and "must" as "должны".
    "Следует" means a suggestion but "должны" means an obligation. You can avoid a suggestion, advice, but you can't avoid an obligation.

    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 20, 2014
  10. Enquiring Mind

    Enquiring Mind Senior Member

    UK/Česká republika
    English - the Queen's
    There's a good page (in English and Russian) on the usage of "should" and "must" in the obligation (and also the probability) sense here (source: usefulenglish.ru). As most posters have correctly said, "must" is stronger than "should".
  11. blind pew Member

    depending on context следует can mean:
    1.a "polite order": вам следует остановиться на красный сигнал светофора- you must stop at the red traffic light. (you have no choice)
    2. an advice : вам следует взять зонтик - you should take your umbrella with you. (you have a choice)

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