‘must’

modals ‘must’

We can use ‘must’ to show that we are certain something is true. We are making a logical deduction based upon some clear evidence or reason.

We also use ‘must’ to express a strong obligation. When we use ‘must’ this usually means that some personal circumstance makes the obligation necessary (and the speaker almost certainly agrees with the obligation.)

         

We can also use ‘have to’ to express a strong obligation. When we use ‘have to’ this usually means that some external circumstance makes the obligation necessary.

        

In British English, we often use ‘have got to’ to mean the same as ‘have to’.

           

We can also use ‘ will have to’ to talk about strong obligations. Like ‘must’ this usually means that that some personal circumstance makes the obligation necessary. (Remember that ‘will’ is often used to show ‘willingness’.)

         

As you can see, the differences between the present forms are sometimes very small and very subtle. However, there is a huge difference in the negative forms.

We use ‘mustn’t’ to express strong obligations NOT to do something.

             

We use ‘don’t have to’ (or ‘haven’t got to’ in British English) to state that there is NO obligation or necessity.

            

 

 

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