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Must or have to
Many learners of English are indifferently using MUST and/ or HAVE TO, thinking that the two forms are perfectly equivalent. Yet, most of the time, they express subtle nuances that learners should know and use in order to communicate effectively.
1) Difference between MUST and HAVE (GOT) TO:
* MUST: the obligation is mostly coming from the speaker or an interlocutor. The obligation is coming from "inside" and expresses a personal decision.
- I must really stop smoking, as I keep coughing and being out of breath.
* HAVE (GOT) TO:
The obligation is coming from other people or other regulations. This obligation is imposed on people and coming from the outside. The locutor may often be quite reluctant to do the action.
- The doctor told me that my lungs were in very bad condition. I really have to stop smoking, but it's so difficult.
2) Be careful! In the negative form, the meanings are quite different:
* MUST NOT: expresses an action which is forbidden.
- "No, Joe, you mustn't repeat what I've just told you: it's a secret."
* DO NOT HAVE TO: you're not obliged to do it. = absence of obligation
- "No, you don't have to tell her the truth now, but you may if you want to."
That's it! Quite easy, isn't it? I'm sure you'll pass the following test with flying colours! Go for it!
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