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Quick answer
"Deber" is a transitive verb which is often translated as "to owe", and "haber de" is a transitive verb phrase which is often translated as "to have to". Learn more about the difference between "deber" and "haber de" below.
deber(
deh
-
behr
)
A transitive verb is a verb that requires a direct object (e.g. I bought a book.).
1. (to reciprocate)
a. to owe
El dinero que me debe cubriría mis facturas.The money he owes me would cover my bills.
An auxiliary verb, or helper verb, is a conjugated verb that comes before a main verb and determines the main verb's tense, mood, or aspect (e.g. I have gone.).
2. (used to express obligation)
a. must (used with an infinitive)
Debo ser responsable.I must be responsible.
b. have to
Ya sabes que debes ponerte la corbata para ir al colegio.You know you have to wear your tie to go to school.
c. should
Los culpables de delitos viales deben ser sancionados.Traffic offenders should be punished.
d. ought to
Deberías ser más amable con los vecinos.You ought to be more polite with our neighbors.
3. (used to express possibility)
a. must (used with an infinitive)
¿Cuántos años tiene tu profesora de francés? - Debe tener unos cuarenta.How old is your French teacher? - She must be around forty.
A masculine noun is used with masculine articles and adjectives (e.g. el hombre guapo, el sol amarillo).
4. (responsibility)
a. duty
Es mi deber proteger mi país.It's my duty to protect my country.
b. obligation
Es tu deber como madre cuidar a tus hijos.It's your obligation as a mother to take care of your children.
deberes
A plural noun indicates that there is more than one person, place, thing, or idea.
plural noun
5. (education)
a. homework
Tengo un montón de deberes que hacer este fin de semana.I have a ton of homework to do this weekend.
deberse
A pronominal verb always uses a reflexive pronoun. (e.g. Te ves cansado.).
6. (to be the result of; used with "a")
a. to be due to
Esta situación se debe a la falta de información.This situation is due to a lack of information.
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haber de(
ah
-
behr
 
deh
)
A transitive verb phrase is a phrase that combines a verb with a preposition or other particle and requires a direct object (e.g. Take out the trash.).
transitive verb phrase
1. (used to express obligation)
a. to have to
El tiempo apremia. Hemos de tomar una decisión lo antes posible.Time is pressing on. We have to make a decision as soon as possible.
b. to must
Has de enviar la solicitud hoy porque acaba el plazo.You must send your application today because it's the deadline.
c.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
El amor es algo que has de descubrir por ti misma.Love is something you should discover for yourself.
¿Por qué una simple disputa por unos terrenos baldíos habría de acabar en guerra?Why should a simple dispute for some wasteland end in war?
2. (used to speculate)
a. to must
El partido ha de haber acabado ya.The game must have finished by now.
b.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
Es muy tozudo, pero ha de haber una forma de convencerlo.He's very stubborn, but there has to be a way of persuading him.
Yo creo que ha de haber al menos 500 personas aquí dentro.I think there must be at least 500 people inside here.
3. (to exist)
a.
This refers to an idiomatic word or phrase for which there is no word-for-word translation.
no direct translation
En el mundo del cine hay de todo, desde verdaderos genios creativos hasta los más descarados arribistas.In the cinema industry there's everything, from true creative geniuses to the most brazen opportunists.
¿Hay alguna librería? - No, este es un pueblo muy pequeño y no hay de eso.Is there a bookshop? - No, this is a very small village and there's no such thing.
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