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Je devrais – How to say “Should” in French

Je devrais – How to say “Should” in French

In today’s lesson I’ll answer the question: How do you say “should” in French. In short, je devrais means I should. I’ll explain how this is formed from the verb devoir (must, to have to) and provide several practical example sentences. The very bottom of this post has a fun pic of myself with an example sentence using devrais. Keep reading!

Je devrais

I should

French lesson explaining how to say "should" in French. Je devrais = I should.

Where does je devrais come from?

Je devrais is simply the conditional form of devoir (must, to have to). This lesson on our site covers devoir in depth and this lesson covers the conditional tense.

Je devrais I should
Tu devrais You should (singular, informal)
Il, elle devrait He, she should
Nous devrions We should
Vous devriez You should (formal, plural)
Ils, elles, devraient They should

Example sentences

For this first example sentence, the reflexive verb, se coucher, means “to go to bed”. In the non reflexive form, “Je couche le bébé”, for example, means “I put the baby to bed”. Note also that plus tôt (two words) means “earlier” while plutôt (one word and no -s) means “rather”.

Je devrais me coucher un peu plus tôt.

I should go to bed a bit earlier.

This example uses the verb essayer (to try). When expressing “to try to + verb”, essayer is always followed by the preposition de. For example, “J’essaie de faire (I try to do).

Tu devrais essayer d’être plus ponctuel.

You should try to be more punctual.

This final example uses the word français (French). When “French” is being used in the context of the language name, it is preceded by the definite article le (the). Hence, le français means “French” as in the language.

Notice too that this last example uses nous (we). There’s a belief among students that the nous form is not used by the French in favor of the pronoun on. This is not true at all. The pronoun nous remains very much part of the French language.

Nous devrions étudier le français avant de voyager en France.

We should study French before traveling to France.


Et voilà ! Now you know how to say use je devrais (I should) in French). Now check out this lesson covering the verb essayer (to try) in detail! Want to take things a step further? Check out this post on French Today’s site explaining how to express could have, should have and would have.

Je devrais faire du ski en France = I should ski in France. This is a pic of me (David, the writer of these word of the day lessons) skiing in Chamonix, France in 2022.
Je devrais faire du ski en France = I should ski in France. This is a pic of me (David, the writer of these word of the day lessons) skiing in Chamonix, France in 2022.

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site,, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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