GYG Day 42. Must vs. Have (got) to

When ‘must’ is a ‘must’, check out yesterday’s blog but what about ‘must’s’ friend ‘have (got) to’? Both talk about obligations / necessity, but with some subtle differences. Here’s where it get tricky.

However, I always try to KISS it by using the word ‘option’

Option (only personal opinion of obligation) BUT No option (by law / rule)

“I must send that email out to Dave a.s.a.p.*”          “You mustn’t smoke in here.”           

No option (It is necessary, a fact, not an option) BUT Option (It isn’t necessary)

“I have to work from 9 till 5 every day.”                    “I don’t have to be at the meeting”.

*so if my boss orders/tells me to do it, then it’s “I have to send that mail out”.

Here’s an extra little titbit for Mr Must, in written rules and instructions we often use ‘must’ even though there is NO option = have to.

Take this example for job application and deadlines “Applications for the job must be received by 18 May.” On the dreaded school exam papers, you read in BOLD capital letters “YOU MUST WRITE YOUR ANSWERS IN INK” – oh it makes me shudder, just to think about it.

BTW, I MUST (my opinion) remind you that the past tense of ‘must’ isn’t ‘musted’ but simply ‘had to’ weird eh?! And definitely not ‘had (got) to’, which reminds ME of the confusion sometimes caused by ‘have (got) to’. Here’s a wonderful example with the ‘have to’ form:

Husband: “Darling, do I really have to go shopping?”

Wife: (On a bad day)

“Yes, you do.” (short form) or

“Yes, you have to go shopping” (long form)

Wife: (on a good day)

“No, you don’t.” (short form) or

“No, you don’t have to go shopping.” (long form)

Here’s the same example with the ‘have got to’ form

Husband: “Darling, have I really got to go shopping?”

Wife: (On a bad day)

“Yes, you have.” (short form) or

“Yes, you have got to go shopping” (long form)

Wife: (on a good day)

“No, you haven’t.” (short form) or

“No, you haven’t got to go shopping.” (long form)

It’s my lucky day, I haven’t got to go shopping today – YIPPEE.

obligation (Pflicht), necessity (Notwendigkeit), subtle differences (feine Unterschiede), tricky (schwerig), instructions (Anweisungen), job application (Bewerbung), deadlines (Abgabetermine), dreaded (gefürchtet), in bold (fett gedruckt), capital letters (Großbuchstaben), to write in ink (in Tinte schreiben), to make sb shudder (jdn erschauern lassen), to remind sb (jdn erinnern), weird (kommisch), to remind sb of sth (jdn an etw erinnern), confusion (Verwirrung), to cause (verursachen)

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