Le chien a bouffé mon devoir.

Le chien a bouffé mon devoir.

luh sheYAA ah boo-FAY maw duh-VWAAR. Click below to hear the sound file!  

The dog ate my homework.

No wonder we love our pets! They give us someone to blame our own missteps on.

Take note that bouffer is a very slangy word. It means eat, yes, but it’s more like the way dogs eat (put food in dish; watch dog inhale entire meal), eating without manners, gulping, shoveling it in.

And le devoir is interesting, too. It means homework or some other kind of assignment, something you have to do, and also means duty. Mon devoir is my homework (an assignment for a single class), and mes devoirs also means my homework (all the assignments for your various classes, taken collectively).

So if the dog was really hungry (or really destructive), you can say Le chien a bouffé mes devoirs. All of them!

And do you know where le devoir comes from? From the verb devoir, which means must, ought to, have to.

It’s an irregular verb with some very specific meanings to each tense or mood of the verb. For example:

Je dois = I must, I am to
Je devrais = I ought to (but I might not)
Je devais = I was supposed to (but I didn’t)
Je devrai = I am going to have to
J’ai dû = I was obliged to, I had to
J’aurais dû = I should have

(The verb that follows each of these must be in the infinitive.)

As you can see, the differences apply not only to the timing of your statement, but also to the degree of obligation. It’s important to think about the implications of your statement before you choose which form to use.


2 responses to “Le chien a bouffé mon devoir.

  1. You couldn’t have written this if you had never acquired Isabella. Give her my love.

    • I could have written it, but it would have been purely intellectual knowledge. :-) Now we know: Never Leave Things Lying Around. Ballpoint pens, remote controls, plastic bags, jackets whose pockets have ever contained doggie treats… If it’s at mouth level, it’s hers. I gave her your love. She looked around for you.

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