When to use Devoir: Passé Composé vs Imparfait

when to use devoir

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on twitter
Share on reddit
Share on email

In this grammar lesson you will learn about when to use devoir.

In this lesson you will learn about:

  • devoir in the passé composé
  • devoir in the imparfait
  • how devoir is used in French sentences
  • how you can quiz yourself on when to use devoir
  • the way to download Anki files for when to use devoir

Please refer to the French A2 Curriculum to get a better overview of French grammar, if you are curious about how this fits in A1 grammar.

By the end of the lesson you will know all about when to use devoir in French!

Table of Contents

Devoir in Passé Composé

You use devoir in the passé composé to show that a past action has been done or completed.

  • devoir in passé composé = had to [do] / must have [done]

J’ai dû étudier hier.

I had to study yesterday.

Il a dû danser la semaine dernière.

He had to dance last week.

Elle a dû le terminer pour vous.

She must have finished it for you.

In each of the three sentences, the action has been completed.

Please read up on devoir conjugation in the passé composé, if you need a refresher on the topic.

Devoir in the Imparfait

You use devoir in the imparfait to refer to a past action, without mentioning if that action has been completed.

Generally speaking, this action has NOT been completed.

  • devoir in imparfait = was supposed to [do]

Afterwards, I will compare and contrast the two, so it will be easier for you to understand the differences.

Je devais étudier hier.

I was supossed to study yesterday.

Il devait danser la semaine dernière.

He was supposed to dance last week.

Elle devait le terminer pour vous.

She was supossed to finished it for you.

In each of the three sentences, the action has NOT been completed.

Please read up on devoir conjugation in the imparfait, if you need a refresher on the topic.

Sentences Overview of When to Use Devoir

The final section of this lesson on when to use devoir is about seeing the it in action.

This is valuable because you can improve your understanding on when to use devoir in French through examples.

Here you can find all of the sentences used, neatly organised in one place.

J’ai dû étudier hier.

I had to study yesterday.

Je devais étudier hier.

I was supossed to study yesterday.

Il a dû danser la semaine dernière.

He had to dance last week.

Il devait danser la semaine dernière.

He was supposed to dance last week.

Elle a dû le terminer pour vous.

She must have finished it for you.

Elle devait le terminer pour vous.

She was supossed to finished it for you.

Quiz Yourself on When to Use Devoir

It’s not enough just to read the article on this lesson.

You should test your knowledge to see if you really understood everything, and to be able to repeat the material.

It is also for this reason that it is recommended to download the Anki Decks and do them.

At the end of every lesson you can do a small test.

You will see the sentences of the previous chapter. It is up to you to give the correct answer.

You will either need to fill in the blanks, choose the correct multiple choice option, or both.

Once you are done the correct answer will be shown.

You can redo the quiz as many times as you want.

Anki File for When to Use Devoir

It is important to do the Anki excercises for this lesson, so that you can remember what you just studied.

By downloading the Anki File for French A2 you can practice every French A2 lesson that is on Language Atlas.

At this moment the Anki File for this lesson doesn’t exist yet. However, in due time this will be available on Language Atlas.

If you don’t know why you should use Anki, or don’t know how to use Anki or merge Anki files please click here.

Anki can be downloaded from here.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Don't miss out on any new French Lessons! You will also get a free copy of our graphical overview of all French Verb Tenses!

More To Explore

Do You have any feedback? let me know!

I would love to know how I can make learning Languages easier for you