Hi John here,

I suppose I’m aiming this at native Spanish speakers really, that elusive little verb “deber”. I was playing around on another Spanish site (Duolingo actually) and was asked to translate “you shouldn’t have written that”, My translation was:

“usted no debería escribir eso”` but it was flagged as incorrect and the correct translation was given as:

“usted no debió escribir eso”

I know that here (SaysomethinginSpanish) we used “debería” to indicate “should”, but is there some subtly that when we negate to “should not” it makes things less conditional and more definitive so that we have to change from “debería” to the preterite tense and use “debió”, or am I thinking too hard about this.

Thanks in anticipation of your explanation.


Hi John,

Actually neither is correct. “You shouldn’t have written that” translates as “Usted no debería haber escrito eso”, or in colloquial language “Usted no tendria que haber escrito eso”. It is actually pretty much word by word with the English. If you say “usted no debería escribir eso” you are missing the “have” part of the sentence and therefore it doesn’t refer to something that happened in the past (“you shouldn’t write that”).

“Usted no debió escribir eso” is simply gramatically wrong, although it might be colloquial speech in some Central American countries, I’m not sure.


1 Like

Thanks for the prompt reply Gaby, I understand now why my answer was wrong, and, as I suspected this is probably central/south American colloquial. Having thought about it, would the translation of
" usted no deberia escribir eso" be something like " you shouldn’t write that"?


Yes, that’s the correct translation John.

Happy to help whenever I can!


Hi Gaby

Sorry for being a chump, you’d already put " you shouldn’t write that" in your original reply, that will teach me to READ THINGS PROPERLY!!