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How to say you should do something in the past but you did not.

Is this a correct usage?

I had to finish my homework.

Are there any soft versions?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

"I had to finish my homework" simply implies that your homework was a task to be done. It does not confirm whether you actually finished the homework or not, and it certainly conveys no regret whatsoever about your homework not getting done. To express regret for not having done the homework, you could use "I wish I had..." or "I should have...", e.g.

  • I wish I had finished my homework.
  • I should have finished my homework.
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1  
+1 I'm not sure what the OP means by his "regret" either; perhaps he means that he intends to use his homework as an excuse for not doing something else, in which case "I'm sorry I couldn't make it; I had to finish my homework" would be fine. – Cerberus Apr 19 '11 at 11:56
    
@Cerberus: You're so right—there's some ambiguity here. Excellent suggestion, by the way. – Jimi Oke Apr 19 '11 at 12:21

If you should have done it but you didn't actually do it, you could say

I failed to do my homework
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protected by Rathony Feb 26 at 18:58

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