Devoir (Must) Meaning, Usage, Example Sentences

Devoir means must, need to or have to and is one of the most important verbs for a beginner student to learn. On this page we’ll have a look at its meanings in a series of examples sentences.

devoir + infinitive = must

When followed by an infinitive it means must and this is the most basic usage of the verb.

  • Je dois travailler demain. I have to work tomorrow.
  • Nous devons partir avant midi. We must leave before noon.
  • Il doit finir cette leçon. He has to finish this lesson.
  • Je dois déjeuner à midi. I need to have lunch at noon.

devoir in conditional + infinitive = should

When preceding an infinitive in the conditional tense devoir can translate to should.

  • Tu devrais travailler un peu plus. You should work a bit more.
  • Ils devraient arriver avant nous. They should arrive before us.
  • Elle devrait apprendre le français! She should learn French!

devoir = to owe (money, etc.)

Devoir quelque chose à quelqu’un means to owe somebody something.

  • Il doit vingt dollars à son frère. He owes $20 to his brother.
  • Tu me dois cinq euros. You owe me 5 €.

devoir = should,

Devoir faire quelque chose in the conditional means bound to do something.

  • Ils jouent si bien. Ils devraient gagner. They’re playing so well. They’re bound to win.

devoir as noun

As a noun, devoir means both duty and homework.

  • J’ai le devoir de m’occuper de toi. I have the duty to take care of you.
  • Je fais toujours mes devoirs avant la leçon. I always do my homework before the lesson.

passé composé = had to

In the passé composé, j’ai dû+ infinitive means I had to.

  • J’ai dû partir à cause de la crise. I had to leave due to crisis.
  • Nous avons dû apprendre tous ces verbes! We had to learn all these verbs!

should have usage

In the past conditional, j’aurais dû + infinitive means I should have.

  • J’aurais dû commander le filet mignon. I should have ordered the filet mignon.
  • Tu aurais dû me le dire! You should have told me!
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