should have...

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Regular verbs, irregular verbs, auxiliary verbs, compound verbs... When do we use which tense? What about those strange constructions the Dutch use to make a continuous? "Staat" my book on the shelf or "ligt" it? Ask all about Dutch verbs here.
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signormalatesta
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should have...

Post by signormalatesta » Mon Apr 10, 2017 1:44 am

Hoi alle!

My Dutch teacher and I were reading one of Aesop's fables in Dutch the other day, and this sentence occurred at the end as the dénouement of the story, just before the moral was given:

In plaats van eerst een liedje te spelen had hij beter het geitje onmiddellijk opgegeten

which seems to mean

Instead of first playing a tune, he should rather have eaten the goat at once.

This seems to be a past conditional construction using a verb of obligation, and I wondered why the sentence weren't constructed:

...zou hij liever/beter het geitje opgegeten moeten hebben

Can anyone explain to both us, just using another example, what the following sentences mean:

Ik zou het boek gelezen moeten hebben
Ik had het boek moeten lezen

?

The first is how I think you should translate 'I should have read the book'; the second is how my Dutch teacher (a native speaker) would translate this. We've consulted two grammars (including Bruce Donaldson's) and this forum without finding an explicit discussion of this issue.

Bedankt!

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Re: should have...

Post by BrutallyFrank » Mon Apr 10, 2017 7:21 am

signormalatesta wrote:
Ik zou het boek gelezen moeten hebben
Ik had het boek moeten lezen
I have to be quick, because I have to go to work. But I'll try to answer it ...

From what I see, it's about necessity.

The first sentence is about options/obligations: I should've, but I didn't. The person made a decision not to do it. There's certainly going to be an explanation following that sentence: "Ik zou het boek gelezen moeten hebben, maar ...."

The second sentence stresses the necessity. It's something that should have been done, but the person failed to do ...
"Moenie worrie nie, alles sal reg kom" (maar hy het nie gesê wanneer nie!)

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Re: should have...

Post by ngonyama » Tue Apr 11, 2017 12:40 pm

A vvt (perfect past tense): hij had dit liever gedaan is often substituted for a more cumbersome vvtt (perfect past future tense) hij zou dat liever gedaan hebben.

I do not really know why, but I have often wondered if it is not a relic from the time that Dutch still had a past subjunctive mood. The reason I suspect that is that German has it that way: er hätte es lieber getan, where "hätte" is Konjunktiv II (past subjunctive). In Dutch the past subjunctive is long gone and does not possess separate distinguishable forms any more. In German that is different: "hatte" is past Indikativ where "hätte" is past subjunctive.

English is in the same boat as Dutch in a sense. The only recognizable past subjunctive would be something like: "he were" but y ou don't say "He were rather at the beech" anymore, but opt for the conditional with "would". In Dutch you can, but more often you just replace the subjunctive "were" with "was" especially in the past perfect tense.

That is even true for things like: Had toch teruggekomen! - why didn't you come back / you should have come back! This 'imperative' of the past perfect also looks suspiciously subjunctive to me. In many Indo-Eureopan languages that mood is used to expressed things other than plain reality like wishes, doubts, alternative realities, suppositions etc.

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Re: should have...

Post by Dolo » Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:58 pm

ngonyama wrote:A vvt (perfect past tense): hij had dit liever gedaan is often substituted for a more cumbersome vvtt (perfect past future tense) hij zou dat liever gedaan hebben.
So are they both widely acceptable in terms of register?

Is 'had moeten' - 'should have'?
Is 'had kunnen' - 'could have'?
What's Dutch for 'must have' then? 'hebben moeten'?
And 'would have' - 'zou hebben''?

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Re: should have...

Post by ngonyama » Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:23 am

Dolo wrote:
ngonyama wrote:A vvt (perfect past tense): hij had dit liever gedaan is often substituted for a more cumbersome vvtt (perfect past future tense) hij zou dat liever gedaan hebben.
So are they both widely acceptable in terms of register?

Acceptable, yes, but not entirely equivalent I'd say. The "zou" construction sounds little softer, politer, higher register.

This is hard without examples:
Is 'had moeten' - 'should have'?
He should have gone away -- Hij had weg moeten gaan

Is 'had kunnen' - 'could have'?
Hij had dat kunnen doen, hij zou dat hebben kunnen doen - he could have done that

What's Dutch for 'must have' then? 'hebben moeten'?
He must have thought -- Hij moet gedacht hebben , hij zal wel gedacht hebben


And 'would have' - 'zou hebben''?
In that case he would have gone sent it away -- in dat geval zou het weggestuurd hebben


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Re: should have...

Post by signormalatesta » Thu Apr 20, 2017 7:58 am

Thanks to you both for your replies!

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