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    #1

    The difference between 'have to' and 'have got to' in terms of use...

    Hello,

    Not too long ago, I noticed an interesting topic about these two expressions which are quite commonly used as a substitute of the modal "must". The question on the topic was about making an appropriate negative for "I have got to be at work by [some particular time]". During the discusion, it was suggested to use "have to" instead of "have got to" in the same context and I agreed. Indeed, as far as I can judge, we can also use "have to" as a simple tense without much harm to the sense in this case ("I have to be at work by 10 pm" vs. "I have got to be at work by 8 pm")

    But, on the other hand... Could we imagine any slightly changed context where "have to" and "have got to" wouldn't be interchangeable?
    What about this: "I have got to be there by 10 o'clock for a week"? I think it could convey the idea of the duration. Or... Would the phrase "I have had to be...for a week" express the same idea better? [Here it seems to me impossible to use the present simple form "have to"] Also, perhaps it's possible to say "I have got to be at work several times a week" if we're talking about a particular week that hasn't been finished yet, and the events (beings at work) that have already taken place since the begining of the week.

    To be perfectly frank, I'm not certain..., so I'd like to ask. What is your opinion?

    Thank you in advance.
    Last edited by Weaver67; 26-Jun-2012 at 15:29.

  1. Chicken Sandwich's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: The difference between 'have to' and 'have got to' in terms of use...

    NOT A TEACHER

    Taken from Practical English Usage by Michael Swan:
    1 meaning: obligation, certainty
    We can use have (got) + infinitive to talk about obligation: things that it is
    necessary for us to do. The meaning is quite similar to must; for the
    differences, see 361.1.
    Sorry, I've got to go now.
    Do you often have to travel on business?
    Have (got) + infinitive can also be used, like must, to express certainty. (This
    used to be mainly an American English structure, but it is now becoming
    common in British English.)
    I don't believe you. You have (got) to be joking.
    Only five o'clock! It's got to be later than that!

    2 grammar: with or without do; got
    In this structure, have can be used like an ordinary verb (with do in questions
    and negatives), or like an auxiliary verb (without do). Got is usually added to
    present-tense auxiliary-verb forms.
    When do you have to be back? When have you (got) to be back?
    Have got to is not normally used to talk about repeated obligation.
    I usually have to be at work at eight. (NOT I've usually got to ... )
    Progressive forms are possible to talk about temporary continued obligation.
    I'm having to work very hard at the moment.
    For more details of the use of do-forms and got-forms of have, see 237.

    3 future: have (got) to or will have to
    To talk about the future, we can use have (got) to if an obligation exists now;
    we use will have to for a purely future obligation. Compare:
    I've got to get up early tomorrow - we're going to Devon.
    One day everybody will have to ask permission to buy a car.
    Will have to can be used to tell people what to do. It 'distances' the
    instructions, making them sound less direct than must (see 361).
    You can borrow my car, but you'll have to bring it back before ten.
    For more about 'distancing', see 436.
    Last edited by Chicken Sandwich; 26-Jun-2012 at 14:30.

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    #3

    Re: The difference between 'have to' and 'have got to' in terms of use...

    Thanks very much! :)

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