necesitar vs. tener que vs. deber

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Vocabulary / Vocabulario Español-Inglés' started by mendicant sponge, Sep 14, 2009.

  1. mendicant sponge Member

    Mi bella casa
    American English
    I would like to know any differences there may be between these verbs to express the idea of obligation or necessity...thank you
  2. gengo

    gengo Senior Member

    That's a pretty broad topic. Have you looked them all up in a good dictionary and read all the example sentences? If you have any specific questions, those might be easier to answer. It's like asking what the difference is between "need to," "have to," "ought to," etc.
  3. CervantinaCcs

    CervantinaCcs Senior Member

    Caracas, Venezuela
    Spanish - Venezuela
    This is my try:

    Necesitar is need
    Tener que is to have to, so you may not need it, but anyway you have to...
    Deber: you should. You don´t necessarily need it, and maybe you don´t have to, but you should.

    Hope it helps
  4. mendicant sponge Member

    Mi bella casa
    American English
    I have a general idea of what they mean, and have read some example sentences, but I wanted to find out any nuances between these words that only a native speaker could provide.
  5. gengo

    gengo Senior Member

    This is why I said the topic was too broad to answer. Deber usually only means "should" in the conditional or past subjunctive mood, whereas deber de + inf. means "must" in the sense of a supposition.

    Debe de tener unos 30 años = He must be about 30
    Debería/debiera dártelo = He should give it to you
    Debe dártelo = He must give it to you. (etc.)
  6. WA profe Member

    English USA
    Is it more common to use tener que or can necesitar and tener que be used interchangeably before the infinitive?

    For example, I have/need to go to the doctor - Would it be more common to say tengo que ir al médico or necesito ir al médico or are both equally valid?

  7. gengo

    gengo Senior Member

    I think the difference is the same in En and Sp. That is, {tener que/have to} implies obligation, whereas {necesitar/need to} implies necessity. The first pair is often used for things that we don't want to do, but must do anyway. Of course, there is a lot of overlap in meaning and actual usage, but I think the above applies in general. And, yes, the first pair is used more often than the second.
  8. verence

    verence Senior Member

    Madrid (Spain)
    Spain (Spanish)
    In Spain it is far more common to say "tengo que ir al médico", "tengo que cuidarme", "tengo que comprar una casa", "tengo que felicitar a Antonio por su cumpleaños", "tengo que pagar a José lo que le debo", "tengo que acordarme de ver el concurso en la televisión"... We use "tengo que" for everything. :)

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