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  1. #1
    Bolo Guest

    'must' vs. 'have to'

    Hi,

    When is there no difference between 'have to' and 'must'?
    I've heard there is a difference in use in BrE and AmE.
    I'll be gratful for some comments.

  2. #2
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Re: 'must' vs. 'have to'

    I have to do well on this test if I am going to pass the course.
    I must do well on this test if I am going to pass the course.
    I see no significant difference. Perhaps you have some other examples I can comment upon?


  3. #3
    Bolo Guest

    Re: 'must' vs. 'have to'

    Do the both given examples express the same feelings or concerns about the test?

    Here are my examples:
    1)
    A: I've burnt my hand. Where's the butter?
    B: You mustn't use butter on a burn. You (must or have to) put your hand in water.

    Is there any difference in the sentence above between 'must' and 'have to'?
    Could you comment on it?

    2)
    Tell her that she must be here by six. I insist on it.

    Would it be possible to put 'has to' in this sentence?, if so , would it change the meaning?


    My grammar book gives only one answer and this is why I'm asking about an explanation.

  4. #4
    Tomasz Klimkiewicz is offline Senior Member
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    Re: 'must' vs. 'have to'

    One of my teachers (I've had many) in the history of my English education would explain the difference in the following manner:

    1. "must" expresses a personal opinion on what's necessary under given circumstances ('...she must be here by six...' - because I demand so);

    2. "have to" expresses an obligation stemming from generally accepted rules or imposed by laws, regulations etc. ('...you have to put your hand in water...' - because that's what people generally do in such a situation).

    That was a long time ago, however; rules may be different in modern English. Certainly using those verbs interchangeably doesn't lead to making a serious grammatical error.

    All the best,

    Tee Kay
    Last edited by Tomasz Klimkiewicz; 28-Feb-2005 at 15:15.

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: 'must' vs. 'have to'

    'Have to' can be used for external authority, especially when you want to distance yourself from the command, but in most cases, they're fairly interchangeable.

  6. #6
    RonBee's Avatar
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    Re: 'must' vs. 'have to'

    Quote Originally Posted by Bolo
    Do the both given examples express the same feelings or concerns about the test?

    Here are my examples:
    1)
    A: I've burnt my hand. Where's the butter?
    B: You mustn't use butter on a burn. You (must or have to) put your hand in water.

    Is there any difference in the sentence above between 'must' and 'have to'?
    Could you comment on it?
    As tdol said, "must" and "have to" are pretty much interchangeable. However, in your example I would not use either one. That is because it is not something that is a requirement but something the speaker thinks is a good idea. Thus, I suggest:
    A: I've burnt my hand. Where's the butter?
    B: You mustn't use butter on a burn. Instead, you should put your hand in cold water.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bolo
    2)
    Tell her that she must be here by six. I insist on it.

    Would it be possible to put 'has to' in this sentence?, if so , would it change the meaning?


    My grammar book gives only one answer and this is why I'm asking about an explanation.
    My preference would be "must", but you can use "has to" without changing the meaning.


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