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    #1

    must / have to

    I often wondered how the verb "must" cannot be made to work in the past tense and to express an obligation in the past tense an expression "to have to" needs to be used.

    Can the construct "must have" be looked upon as a way around this constraint of "must"?

    To explain more clearly what I mean here's an example:

    "I must be out of my mind to call her" = "I have to be out of my mind to call her" which I suppose means "the fact of my calling her is a proof of my insanity"

    and in the past

    "I must have been out of my mind to call her" = "I had to be out of my mind to call her"

    Does this theory hold water or am I out of my mind to even think so?

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: must / have to

    "I must be out of my mind to call here."

    There is no obligation here - it is a statement of logical certainty about a situation. If the situation is past, then we say, "I must have been out of my mind".

    If we want to describe a past obligation that was fulfilled, then we say, "I had to (e.g., be at the office by seven)"

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: must / have to

    Quote Originally Posted by JarekSteliga View Post
    I often wondered how the verb "must" cannot be made to work in the past tense and to express an obligation in the past tense an expression "to have to" needs to be used.

    Can the construct "must have" be looked upon as a way around this constraint of "must"?

    To explain more clearly what I mean here's an example:

    "I must be out of my mind to call her" = "I have to be out of my mind to call her" which I suppose means "the fact of my calling her is a proof of my insanity"

    and in the past

    "I must have been out of my mind to call her" = "I had to be out of my mind to call her"

    Does this theory hold water or am I out of my mind to even think so?
    All your examples mean exactly what you think they do. So they all refer to the act of phoning being proof of your insanity whether in the present or the past.

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: must / have to

    Quote Originally Posted by JarekSteliga View Post
    I often wondered how the verb "must" cannot be made to work in the past tense and to express an obligation in the past tense an expression "to have to" needs to be used.

    Can the construct "must have" be looked upon as a way around this constraint of "must"?

    To explain more clearly what I mean here's an example:

    "I must be out of my mind to call her" = "I have to be out of my mind to call her" which I suppose means "the fact of my calling her is a proof of my insanity"

    and in the past

    "I must have been out of my mind to call her" = "I had to be out of my mind to call her"

    Does this theory hold water or am I out of my mind to even think so?
    I think you're confused. Your use of "I must have been out of my mind" does not express obligation.
    Let's say you want to talk about obligation in the past. You wanted to get into a psychiatric hospital (Don't ask me why). But they wouldn't admit you unless you were out of your mind. So you had an obligation to be out of your mind if you wanted admission.
    You can't say, "I must have been out of my mind for them to admit me".
    You have to say, "I had to be out of my mind before they would consider admitting me", or "I would have had to have been out of my mind before they would consider admitting me".

    PS: I seem to remember a construction with "must needs be" from old novels; and there is this line from Walter Scott: "He was haunted by two evil spirits ... who, even upon the scaffold, were disturbing him by inhumane interrogatories, when he had must need to have had his thought in best repose."
    http://books.google.com.au/books?id=aZshAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA448&lpg=PA448&dq="had+m ust+need"&source=bl&ots=JHj9PZ3BcI&sig=nco0RzPJHon A_vPbKepnzQpRqgE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=0hIVT5bKK8a0iQeg1JB D
    I couldn't guarantee that this isn't a typo for "had most need". If it is genuine, then it's possible that in the past, it was possible to say "I had must need be mad before they would admit me", or something similar. But maybe I'm going mad. In any case, it's not allowed in modern English.
    Last edited by Raymott; 17-Jan-2012 at 13:18.

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    #5

    Re: must / have to

    PS: I seem to remember a constructions with "must needs be" from old novels; and there is this line from Walter Scott: "He was haunted by two evil spirits ... who, even upon the scaffold, were disturbing him by inhumane interrogatories, when he had must need to have had his thought in best repose."
    http://books.google.com.au/books?id=aZshAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA448&lpg=PA448&dq="had+m ust+need"&source=bl&ots=JHj9PZ3BcI&sig=nco0RzPJHon A_vPbKepnzQpRqgE&hl=en&sa=X&ei=0hIVT5bKK8a0iQeg1JB D
    I couldn't guarantee that this isn't a typo for "had most need". If it is genuine, then it's possible that in the past, it was possible to say "I had must need be mad before they would admit me", or something similar. But maybe I'm going mad. In any case, it's not allowed in modern English.[/QUOTE]

    I am very glad that I haven't stumbled upon this particular sentence by Walter Scott, because if I had, I would for sure not have been able to make heads or tails of it.

    I am equally glad (as I am sure all my fellow learners are) to see the back of sentences like "I had must need be mad". Bye the way, did not Scott use "clothed" infinitive instead of bare infinitive?

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    #6

    Re: must / have to

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I think you're confused. Your use of "I must have been out of my mind" does not express obligation.
    Let's say you want to talk about obligation in the past. You wanted to get into a psychiatric hospital (Don't ask me why). But they wouldn't admit you unless you were out of your mind. So you had an obligation to be out of your mind if you wanted admission.
    You can't say, "I must have been out of my mind for them to admit me".
    You have to say, "I had to be out of my mind before they would consider admitting me", or "I would have had to have been out of my mind before they would consider admitting me".
    Let us look at a different example: "I do not have the keys in my pocket so I must have left them in the car"

    I quite understand that I could not say: "I do not have the keys in my pocket because I must have left them in the car" meaning "I do not have the keys in my pocket because I was obliged/told/forced etc. to leave them in the car or forbidden from taking them from the car"

    Still could not the phrase "...must have left them..." in the original sentence be not looked at as an obligation, except a different kind of obligation? I know this goes far and perhaps beyond the reasonable, but I would suggest that obligations for the sake of our current discussion should be divided into two categories:

    1. An obligation towards or because of a human being or human related.
    2. An obligation towards logic or logical inference or mathematical axiom etc.

    The phrase "had to" covers both kinds of obligation, while the phrase "must have ..PP" only the second.

    What do you think?

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    #7

    Re: must / have to

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    All your examples mean exactly what you think they do. So they all refer to the act of phoning being proof of your insanity whether in the present or the past.

    Thank you. It is now just a wild theory related to this - which I took the liberty of unleashing - which alarmed other members of the forum.

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    #8

    Re: must / have to

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    "I must be out of my mind to call here."

    There is no obligation here - it is a statement of logical certainty about a situation. If the situation is past, then we say, "I must have been out of my mind".

    If we want to describe a past obligation that was fulfilled, then we say, "I had to (e.g., be at the office by seven)"

    Thank you

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    #9

    Re: must / have to

    Quote Originally Posted by JarekSteliga View Post
    Let us look at a different example: "I do not have the keys in my pocket so I must have left them in the car"

    I quite understand that I could not say: "I do not have the keys in my pocket because I must have left them in the car" meaning "I do not have the keys in my pocket because I was obliged/told/forced etc. to leave them in the car or forbidden from taking them from the car"

    Still could not the phrase "...must have left them..." in the original sentence be not looked at as an obligation, except a different kind of obligation? I know this goes far and perhaps beyond the reasonable, but I would suggest that obligations for the sake of our current discussion should be divided into two categories:

    1. An obligation towards or because of a human being or human related.
    2. An obligation towards logic or logical inference or mathematical axiom etc.

    The phrase "had to" covers both kinds of obligation, while the phrase "must have ..PP" only the second.

    What do you think?
    I think it's far easier to use the conventional understanding that "obligation" refers to 1. only.

    Besides, you're making an even worse error, I think. 2. only refers to obligation in the sense that any grammatical construction is obliged to follows the rules of the language, regardless of whether the meaning is one of obligation of not. For example, if your rule was valid, other modals, such as 'can' and 'would' would also relate to obligation, because you're obliged to use them in some cases.
    "That can't be Mary. Mary is blonde". Are you going to assert that "can't" also relates to obligation because it's a logical inference? How about, "It might be Mary". This is an obligation to concede the possibility that the person is Mary.

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    #10

    Re: must / have to

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I think it's far easier to use the conventional understanding that "obligation" refers to 1. only.

    Besides, you're making an even worse error, I think. 2. only refers to obligation in the sense that any grammatical construction is obliged to follows the rules of the language, regardless of whether the meaning is one of obligation of not. For example, if your rule was valid, other modals, such as 'can' and 'would' would also relate to obligation, because you're obliged to use them in some cases.
    "That can't be Mary. Mary is blonde". Are you going to assert that "can't" also relates to obligation because it's a logical inference? How about, "It might be Mary". This is an obligation to concede the possibility that the person is Mary.

    You have quite convinced me that it is far easier to use the conventional understanding of "obligation" and at this stage of the discussion give the matter a rest.

    However your example sentence leads me to another question (beside the topic).

    "That can't be Mary. Mary is blonde"

    My question is how to transpose these two to past tense.

    "That couldn't have been Mary. Mary was blonde" using the past form of the modal 'can'
    or
    "That can't have been Mary. Mary was blonde" following the analogy of 'must' and leaving the modal in its present form.

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