doit / devrait


Senior Member
english, usa
On TV5Monde today was the caption, "L'Europe doit-elle renforcer son soutien à l'Ukraine?".

I immediately read this as, "Should Europe increase its support for Ukraine?", since "should" is more likely the translation.
However, doit=must, and devrait=should.
If the correct translation is "should", then why wasn't the question written as, "L'Europe devrait-elle..."?

And if the correct French and English words are "doit" and "should", then how would you say, "must Europe ..."?
Would it be, "Est-ce qu'il faut que L'Europe renforcer..."

Thank you in advance.
  • Kir88

    Senior Member
    english, usa
    In a question, doit and devrait are quite equivalent to should.

    doit-elle ? / devrait-elle ? :arrow: should it?
    elle doit :arrow: it must
    elle devrait :arrow: it should
    Thank you! So how would you say, "Must it?" to distinguish it from "Should it"?


    Senior Member
    english, usa
    For questions in VS > Faut-il que l'Europe...?
    but with SV > L'Europe doit-elle....
    L'Europe faut-elle :cross:
    Thank you.
    It makes sense that the third line is incorrect, because falloir always goes with the impersonal "il".
    But according to Yendred, the second line means "should Europe...?" and not "must Europe...?"
    So I will stick with falloir to avoid ambiguity.


    Senior Member
    French - Québec
    I agree with Yendred. Perhaps it would be useful to add a third option to the must/should pair: need (or ought). It’s about as strong as must, but coming from a third party that doesn’t call the shots. Here, it suggests that urgent action is needed. Do you believe Europe ought to increase its support?

    "Devrait-elle", on the other hand, would be closer to "should it"—a somewhat more passive opinion, one that considers an eventuality.

    Though I would add that the nuance is likely more subtle in French than it is in English, and the choice of which to use in the caption might have had more to do with the number of characters needed and the available room.