Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: Does "have to" mean the same thing as the modal auxiliary verb "must"?  (Read 3007 times)
Joe Carillo
Administrator
Hero Member
*****

Karma: +52/-2
Posts: 3562


View Profile Email
« on: November 26, 2011, 11:57:02 AM »

Questions sent in as private messages by Pipes, Forum member (November 26, 2011):

Dear Mr. Carillo,

I hope you haven’t grown tired of replying to my every question. I actually have these follow-up questions if you don’t mind:

1. What is the difference between “have to” and “must”? Do they mean the same thing when they refer to obligation? Is it true that we can use them interchangeably, as what other grammarians say?

2. Is it correct to use the subject pronoun “she” in the IF-clause, as in: “If I were she, I would have joined the camping?”

3. What exactly is the correct response to the question: “How do you do?” I was told it should be “How do you do, too?” Is that correct?

Thank you so much, Sir. Have a good night!

Yours,
Pipes

My reply to Pipes:

No, Pipes, don’t you worry. I won’t ever grow tired of answering sensible questions from people who really want to improve their English grammar and usage. They are what this Forum is primarily for.

Now to my thoughts on your latest questions:

1. What is the difference between “have to” and “must”? Do they mean the same thing when they refer to obligation? Is it true that we can use them interchangeably, as what other grammarians say?

“Have to” and “must” both express a desire or resolve to do something but they mean it in different ways. This being the case, they shouldn’t be used interchangeably.

Generally, “have to” expresses an impersonal obligation demanded or imposed by another person or entity; the subject of “have to” is obliged to do the action of the verb that follows, as in “I have to clock in to work at 8:30 a.m. every day.” “Motorists in Britain have to drive on the left lane.”

In contrast, “must” expresses a subjective obligation or resolve on the part of the speaker or subject. It’s a modal auxiliary verb for indicating that the action of the verb that follows is essential or necessary, as in “I must put an end to this lopsided arrangement.” “She must quit the job or get fired!”

2. Is it correct to use the subject pronoun “she” in the IF-clause, as in: “If I were she, I would have joined the camping?”

In subjunctive sentences like “If I were her/she, I would have joined the camping,” it remains contentious whether to use the object pronoun “her” or the subject pronoun “she.” For formal writing, it’s highly advisable to use “she” in such sentences: “If I were she, I would have joined the camping?” English teachers and hidebound bureaucrats definitely won’t quibble over your choice. Many people find such sentences stiff and unnatural-sounding, though, so they often use “her” instead in informal writing or speech: “If I were her, I would have joined the camping.” Depending on the communication situation, use your best judgment when making the choice.

3. What exactly is the correct response to the question: “How do you do?” I was told it should be “How do you do, too?” Is that correct?

As far as I know, the prevailing appropriate, positive polite response to “How do you do?” is “I’m fine, thank you! And you?” or, in “I’m good, thank you! And you?” (A more ebullient reply would be “I’m doing great, thank you! And you?”) To reply “How do you do, too?” would be too nonchalant, excruciatingly stiff—perhaps even irritating. I suppose a middle-ground, still acceptable response would be “I’m fine, thank you. And how about you?”
« Last Edit: November 26, 2013, 08:07:23 AM by Joe Carillo » Logged

Pages: [1]
Print
Jump to: