"He is not here yet. His last meeting must have finished late."

Il n'est pas encore ici. Sa dernière réunion ___ tard.

(1) a dû finir

(2) aurait dû finir

(3) devait finir

(4) doit avoir fini

(5) devrait avoir fini

Which of the choices is/are a proper translation of the above sentence? The English sentence uses "must have", so choice (2) is the direct translation. However, I'm not sure if the other choices work as well for expression the supposition/guess that the meeting finished late.

  • 1
    Just a small mistake there : "réunion" is feminine, so the translation is "Sa dernière réunion" ! Dec 30, 2016 at 9:33
  • @OlivierCharton Thanks, I've edited.
    – user11550
    Jan 1, 2017 at 3:14

4 Answers 4


Il n'est pas encore ici. Sa dernière réunion ___ tard.

(1) a dû finir : correct, idiomatic. The last meeting is suspected to have finished late: sa dernière réunion s'est probablement terminée tard.

(2) aurait dû finir : wrong. Opposite meaning: the last meeting was expected to finish late but that wasn't the case.

(3) devait finir : wrong. That would mean you already knew the last meeting was going to finish late.

(4) doit avoir fini : dubious. I would not use it, perhaps because it is slightly ambiguous (the last meeting is required to end late), but it would likely be understood as expected.

(5) devrait avoir fini : wrong, That would mean you know the last meeting is still ongoing.


Permettez que je réponde en Français. Ici il y a plusieurs interprétations pour éviter de tomber dans la faute et pour avoir la bonne réponse qui est a du finir:

1-Il n'est pas encore ici (Certitude/présent). Sa dernière réunion a du finir tard (Certitude ou supposition/passé composé). on peut remplacer a du finir par a sans doute fini / a surement fini.

2-Il n'est pas encore ici !/? (l'étonnement/l'intrigue). Sa dernière réunion Devait finir/Aurait du finir tôt. (ici on sent que la personne qui parle est contrariée).

Remarque : je n'ai fait que répondre à ta question avec les propositions indiquées mais si on réfléchit bien, une réunion ne finit pas (ce n'est pas elle qui fait l'action) ici on utilise le pronominal, c'est à dire que l'action de finir est faite par celui qui a l'influence sur cette réunion et donc on dit (a du SE finir).

Good luck !

  • Option 4 works too.
    – qoba
    Jan 9, 2017 at 19:35
  • @qoba, avec la négation & l'adverbe tard sa sonne plutôt mal, mais si on dit "il sera bientôt là, sa réunion doit avoir fini." (c'est juste une supposition, pas une règle, donc je peux me tromper) !
    – Bo Halim
    Jan 9, 2017 at 20:14
  • Maybe. To me the difference between a dû finir and doit avoir finished is a matter of style rather than grammatical correctness or meaning. The point is that it's not incorrect as a translation, in my opinion...
    – qoba
    Jan 9, 2017 at 20:19

I would say

(1) a dû finir tard

because we are not sure if the duration of the reunion is the reason for him not be here.

  • Wouldn't using a dû finir imply that we are sure that the meeting finished late?
    – user11550
    Jan 4, 2017 at 13:55
  • we imply the meeting finished late using a dû finir but without certainty. The reason could have been sa voiture a dû avoir un accident
    – glmrenard
    Jan 5, 2017 at 7:30

Direct translation of "must have" is not (2) but I think that "doit avoir fini", so (4), would match better.

(direct translation of (2) would be "should have ended late", as "aurait dû" is past conditional)

However, I'm not sure I can precisely tell why, but (1) sounds actually better for me...

  • Do you think (4) and/or (2) also work?
    – user11550
    Jan 1, 2017 at 3:14
  • As I said, I think (2) is incorrect translation (must is stronger than a conditionnal form as in 2) The best one would be (1), and, yes, (4) is also correct.
    – Manu310
    Jan 1, 2017 at 10:40

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