il ne faut pas / tu ne dois pas

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by Matt15, Oct 30, 2012.

  1. Matt15 Senior Member

    English (UK)
    Hi all,

    I was wondering if someone can explain the difference between 'il ne faut pas que tu...' and 'tu ne dois pas'.

    Is the first one 'you mustn't/shouldn't' and the second one 'you don't have to' meaning it's not compulsory but you can do it if you want to?

  2. Moon Palace

    Moon Palace Senior Member

    Both would be translated by you mustn't. Yet the first one is a bit more impersonal, so that in assertions it would be translated by You have to / il faut que tu ..., thus showing the difference: when I say il faut que tu... I mean it is beyond my own opinion, it adds the idea of some external constraint.
    That being said, I am not sure all people make such a difference between the two when speaking. This distinction would be destined to students of French who need to make the distinction when translating a text.
  3. MarianneBZH New Member


    "Tu ne dois pas" is stronger than "Il ne faut pas". "Tu ne dois pas" means that you must not do this for some specific reason(s). "Il ne faut pas" rather expresses something everybody shouldn't do because it is not correct/legal/etc...

    Edit: Sorry Moon Palace, you were faster ^^
  4. Matt15 Senior Member

    English (UK)
    So how would you say 'you don't have to' meaning something isn't compulsory but you can do it if you want to?
  5. yvo Senior Member

    at lille in france
    france, français
    "tu ne dois pas" is strictly an order, a duty or an obligation to follow.
    "il ne faut pas que" it could be either obligation or advice.
  6. yvo Senior Member

    at lille in france
    france, français
    "il ne faut pas que tu" fits it
    at least, "tu ne devrais pas" sounds more like an advice
  7. MarianneBZH New Member

    I'd rather say "Tu ne devrais pas (faire ceci / faire comme ça)" which is an advice or "Tu n'a pas à (faire ceci / faire comme ça)" which is a literal translation of "You don't have to".
  8. Moon Palace

    Moon Palace Senior Member

    It seems we don't all see the phrases in the same way, but here is the definition of falloir from the TLF (in phrases like il faut que...)

    I'd say it confirms my first explanation by showing that the duty is seen through the conventions, necessity, or the vital aspect of something, not through one's own opinion as in tu dois.
    we would rather say il ne faut pas jouer avec les prises électriques. (Because it is dangerous in itself and has nothing to do with what I think)
    But we would say: tu ne dois pas en parler (c'est un secret): there is no convention at stake, I am asking you not to talk about it because I choose to keep it secret.
  9. Oddmania

    Oddmania Senior Member

    As Matt15 suggested, you could say Tu n'as pas à + infinitive, or Ce n'est pas la peine que tu + subjunctive (= Don't bother to..., it's not necessary) :)
  10. Matt15 Senior Member

    English (UK)
    Thanks everyone for your help. It's much clearer now.
  11. somnium New Member

    British English
    Tu n'a pas à X only corresponds to You don't have to X in a minority of contexts.

    Tu n'a pas à te plaindre -> You've nothing to complain about or Don't complain
    Tu n'a pas à taper sur ton frère juste parce qu'il te tire la langue -> You don't hit your brother just because he put his tongue out at you
    Tu n'a pas à me parler comme ça -> You've no right to talk to me like that
    Je te l'ai sorti, comme ça tu n'as pas à le chercher partout -> I got it out for you, that way you won't have to go looking everywhere for it

    Most of the time I'd translate "You don't have to" by "Tu n'es pas obligé".
    "You don't have to dress up [to go there]" Tu n'es pas obligé d'être en tenue soignée.
    "You don't have to walk, there's a bus" Tu n'es pas obligé d'y aller à pied, il y a un service de bus
    "You don't have to be an asshole every day of your life" Tu n'es pas obligé d'être un connard en permanence (*)
    "You don't have to think about it very long to realise it's a waste of time" Il n'y a pas besoin de refléchir longtemps pour se rendre compte que c'est une perte de temps

    (* I don't know how the subtitlers actually translated that line)

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