"I had to..." 'J'ai du' versus 'Je devais' i wanted to a tell a friend "I had to look it up" and i wasn't sure which form was correct.
Aug 13, 2018 10:33 AM
Answers · 4
This is a subtle point. You won't encounter it at the beginning levels. Briefly, there are verbs dealing with thought/intention/obligation (penser, croire, vouloir, pouvoir, devoir and others), emotion (aimer, détester and others), and sensation (sentir and others) that are usually treated as states having no beginning or end. In the past, they almost always go in the imparfait. Quand mon père était jeune, il croyait que les martians existaient ... il devait aller à l'école ... il aimait son chien ... When the verb applies to a state with a beginning or an end or both, the passé composé is used. L'enfant voulait du gâteau. Il en a demandé à sa mère, mais elle a refusé. ("wanted some cake" is a state) L'enfant est allé chez sa grand-mère. Il a vu un gâteau sur la table. Il en a voulu. ("wanted some cake" is a result, a change of state, after seeing the cake.")
August 16, 2018
I think "J'ai du" as it is a short completed action which occurred once rather than using the imperfect "je devais" to imply a repeated action in the past.
August 13, 2018
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