In English, we use the words must and have to when we want to say that something is to be done necessarily or compulsorily. While must defines the exigency of doing something, have to denote an obligation which is imposed by someone else. Let’s take a look at the examples to understand them better:
- Police have to arrest the criminals as soon as possible. Criminals must be life-sentenced.
- I went to meet the doctor, but he was not at the clinic. The receptionist said, “You have to wait, the doctor must be on the way.”
- You must take a stand for yourself, or else you have to follow others command.
In these examples, you might have observed that the word must is used to indicate the ‘necessity’ or ‘need of the hour’. As against, have to represents an obligation or duty of the subject, to act in a specified manner.
Content: Must Vs Have to
|Basis for Comparison||Must||Have to|
|Meaning||Must reflects the necessity of doing something, as per the given circumstances.||Have to is used when we want to say that something must happen, as it is required by law or circumstances.|
|Verb||Modal verb||Semi-modal verb|
|Represents||What is necessary in the eyes of the speaker.||Subject is obliged to do something.|
|Pronoun||Remains same for all pronoun.||It is conjugated as per the pronoun.|
|Negative and Interrogative Sentences||Created without using auxiliary verb||Cannot be created without using auxiliary verb|
|Example||I must reach the office on time.||I have to reach the office on time.|
|She must be waiting for me in the market.||She has to wait for me in the market.|
|You must go to the parlor.||You have to go to the parlor.|
Definition of Must
The word ‘must’ is used to express the compulsion or inevitability of doing something according to the circumstances, which cannot be ignored. It can be used in the following ways:
- It indicates something which is absolutely necessary, to happen:
- Some corrections in the Project must be made.
- One must be influential, to become a leader.
- Candidate must be an expert in the subject, to apply for this job.
- You mustn’t be late for the exam.
- To emphasize something:
- I must say, you are really a kind-hearted and gentle human being.
- To indicate the probability of something:
- You must be busy.
- Joe must be coming by train.
- Prince is not here, He must have left for the office.
- For exclamations:
- You must be fooling me!
- To indicate obligation:
- The boss said, “You must complete the project by November, this year.”
- To give a remark or comment:
- You must be wondering, how I completed this.
- You must ask yourself, whether the decision is right or not?
Definition of Have to
When someone is forced or bound to do something, we use the word ‘have to’. Hence, it denotes an obligation imposed on someone. Let’s discuss its uses with the help of examples:
- To indicate that something must be done:
- She has to go to America, on the launch of a new product.
- I have to mail the letter by today itself.
- Every person has to follow the traffic rules.
- To express something required by the rule:
- You have to hold the luggage carefully.
- You have to stay silent if you are in the hospital.
- To emphasize something:
- I have to say; you did a fantastic work.
- To advice or comment someone:
- You don’t have to be an expert in science to understand the law of gravity.
- To get good marks in exams, you have to study hard.
- You have to be smart, to win this game.
Key Differences Between Must and Have to
The difference between must and have to can be explained clearly on the following grounds:
- We use the word ‘must’ to show the indispensability of something. It indicates the exigency of an act. On the other hand, ‘have to’ is used to indicate that the subject is bound to act in a specified manner, because of some external pressure.
- While must is a modal verb, have to is a semi-modal verb, in the sense that as a modal verb it is used along with the verb to express necessity, but acts like a normal verb in its formulation.
- Both must and have to talks about obligation, but must highlight a personal obligation, and have to outlines an external obligation.
- Must indicate what the speaker considers necessary, but have to expresses that the subject is obliged to do something.
- Must is the same for all the pronouns, i.e. I must, He must, etc. Conversely, Have to is conjugated according to the pronouns, i.e. I have to, He has to, etc.
- Negative and Interrogative Sentences can be created using ‘must’ without using auxiliary verbs, such as Must we? I must not, etc. On the other hand, if we are using ‘have to’ in negative and interrogative sentences, then we need to use auxiliary verbs, like I don’t have to, or Does she have to?
- CVs must be received by tomorrow 8 pm.
- You must take an appointment to meet the doctor.
- I must call the police and inform them about the crime.
- Do you have to go to the library?
- Kate has to travel a lot because of her job.
- Robin had to do everything by himself when he was in London.
How to remember the difference
The best way to remember the difference between these two is that you can use must when you think something is necessary to do, but when you are obliged to do something use have to. Further, the word ‘must’ remain the same in all the three tenses, whereas have to becomes ‘had to’ and ‘will have to’, in the past tense and future tense respectively.