Debe/debe de

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés' started by emr, Dec 20, 2005.

  1. emr Member

    Long Beach, California
    English, United States

    ¿Alguien me podría decir cuando es correcto usar “debe” y “debe de?” Por ejemplo si quiero traducir “He should do it” sería “¿Él debo hacerlo” o “él debe de hacerlo?” No se si esto es un buen ejemplo y quizás esta es una pregunta muy simple pero nunca lo he entendido.

    Muchas gracias por su ayuda.
  2. jacinta Senior Member

    USA English
    deber = obligation
    deber de = supposition

    Debes salir a las ocho. You must leave at eight.
    Deben de ser las ocho. It must be around eight.
  3. Kaia

    Kaia Senior Member

    Argentina -Spanish
    Deber + infinitive= must ("obliged to") > debes estudiar más si quieres pasar el examen.
    Note: in this case you can also use "tener que" > Tú tienes que estudiar más si quieres pasar el examen.
    "Deber de" must not be used to express obligation (!)

    "Deber (de)" expresses "probability" or "supposition". You can use it with the preposition "de" or not.
    Debiste de llegar temprano / Debiste llegar temprano
    Debe de haber sido muy triste/ Debe haber sido muy triste

    Nowadays tendency is to drop the "de" in both cases. However you must be careful of not using "de" when it comes to "obligation".
  4. Kaia

    Kaia Senior Member

    Argentina -Spanish
    Una corrección > Él debe hacerlo
  5. Paul Wessen Senior Member

    San Jose Costa Rica
    USA English
    Hola, Kaia!

    Your reference to the "optional use of de" is very useful to students of Spanish. Nothing is more frustrating to the fanatical student than coming across variations in grammar patterns without explanations. Thereby, he/she continually "learns/re-learns/learns again," etc ad infinitum until falling into a pit of despair. Here are two examples of advice I've come across that have provided me with great relief...

    (1) Don't waste a lot of time trying to untangle the le/lo thing. Get the best grasp of it you can, then go on to something else. Otherwise, you could go on forever back and forth.

    (2) Sometimes the de is omitted. Sometimes the que is ommited. And sometimes both are omitted. It all depends on the region and the author. Don't drive yourself nuts trying to settle on one expectation.

    A useful service, Kaia. The world of learners thanks you.

    ------------ Paul
  6. Kaia

    Kaia Senior Member

    Argentina -Spanish
    Gracias Paul, no es para tanto...
  7. emr Member

    Long Beach, California
    English, United States
    Gracias a todos que contestaron. Ya entiendo la diferencia. What a relief!

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