supposed to/supposed to have been

Discussion in 'Italian-English' started by AJAY, Jun 4, 2007.

  1. AJAY Member


    Just wondering if the following sentences are correct

    Doveva essere stata contenta con la sorpresa ma non si e' piacuta molto.
    - She was supposed to have been happy with the surprise but she didn't like it.

    Doveva avere avuto un operazione la settimana scorsa ma non c'era un letto.
    - She was supposed to have had an operation last week but there wasn't a bed.

    (La lezione) Doveva essere martedi, ma non potevo venire.
    - The lesson was supposed to be Tuesday but I couldn't make it.

    Doveva avere 4 pezzi invece di 3.
    - It was supposed to have 4 pieces instead of 3.

  2. underhouse Senior Member

  3. AJAY Member

    Thanks for the corrections. Can 'doveva essere stata...' etc be used in another situation?
  4. underhouse Senior Member

    Definitely you could have "deve essere stato/a..." eg "deve essere stata una bella donna (she must have been a beautiful woman)" and I think you could also have "doveva essere stato/a..." eg "doveva essere stata una bella giornata (it must had been a beautiful day(?))".

    I make a few corrections on the translations I gave you above:

    (La lezione) sarebbe dovuta essere martedi, ma non ce l'ho fatta.

    Avrebbe dovuto avere 4 pezzi invece di 3.

    I think that "to be supposed to" should always be translated with a conditional in Italian.
  5. Gianni2 Senior Member

    USA English
    I don't think 'she was supposed to be content' is proper. I would say 'she should have been content',i.e. dovrebbe essere stato felice. Gianni
  6. AJAY Member

    Just to clarify -

    'Sarebbe dovuta essere contenta per la sorpresa'
    - can be translated as both 'She should have been happy with the surprise (but she didn't like it)' and 'She was supposed to have been happy with the surprise.' More or less the same meaning.


    'La lezione doveva essere martedi'
    - the lesson was supposed to be tuesday
    'sarebbe dovuta essere martedi'
    - the lesson should have been tuesday

    Thanks a lot for your help with this!
  7. giovannino

    giovannino Senior Member

    Naples, Italy
    Italian, Neapolitan
    Actually with compound tenses of verbs like "dovere", "potere", "volere" followed by "essere" you should use "avere" as an auxiliary.
    From the Accademia della Crusca site:

    4) Se il servile è seguito dal verbo "essere", l'ausiliare sarà sempre "avere": es. "ha dovuto essere forte", "ha voluto essere il primo"
    (you can read the rest here)

    So it should be "Avrebbe dovuto essere contenta".

    There is an important difference in meaning (which often escapes foreign learners) between "avrebbe/sarebbe dovuto + infinitive" and "dovrebbe essere/avere + past participle":

    Sarebbe dovuto andare (but he didn't)
    Avrebbe dovuto dirmelo (but he didn't)


    Dovrebbe essere andato (I'm not sure but I expect he did)
  8. shgrdii Member

    I am still somewhat confused when it comes to knowing how to conjugate "dovere" in certain sentences. Here is what I think and perhaps someone could confirm if I am right or wrong.

    Dovere in the imperfect:
    Dovevo studiare ma invece sono andato al cinema
    I had to study (was supposed to but I didn't) but went to the cinema instead.

    Dovere in the passato prossimo:
    Ho dovuto studiare
    I had to study (and I did study). It would be like if someone asked you why you weren't at the game, you would tell them what you had to do, which was something you actually DID as well.

    Someone in the thread said that if you want to convey something you "were supposed to do" you should use the conditional. But can't you also use the imperfect? "Dovevo"

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