Must vs Have To

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What’s the difference between them?



Must is an auxiliary verb that expresses an obligation, duty, or necessity.


1. You must attend the meeting on Thursday.

2. She must finish her assignment by next week.

3. We must make sure to be on time for the event.

Have To


Have to is a phrase used to express obligation or necessity. It is often used to denote that something is required or demanded of someone.


1. I have to go to the dentist tomorrow.

2. I don't want to, but I have to finish this project by the end of the week.

3. I have to remember to buy milk on the way home.

Learn similar and opposite words to spot the difference




1. Should

2. Necessitate

3. Require

4. Insist

5. Demand

1. Needn't

2. Shouldn't

3. Free

4. Avoid

5. Refrain

Have To

1. Must

2. Need to

3. Be compelled to

4. Be obligated to

5. Ought to

1. Don't Need To

2. Not Obligated To

3. Not Required To

4. Don't Ought To

5. No Need To

Tricks for mastery

Useful tips to understand the difference between confusing words "Must", "Have To".

1. The key distinction between must and have to is that must is an auxiliary verb used to express an obligation, duty, or necessity, while have to is a phrase used to express the same.

2. When expressing an obligation, duty, or necessity, use the verb must.

3. When expressing the same in phrase form, use have to.

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Frequently asked questions

When should the word 'must' be used?

Must should be used to express an obligation, duty, or necessity. For example, 'You must follow the rules.' It can also be used to express a strong recommendation or suggestion in a less formal way, such as 'You must try this dessert, it's amazing!'

When is the appropriate context for using the phrase 'have to'?

Have to is most often used to express obligation or necessity. It is used to indicate something is required or demanded of someone. For example, 'You have to complete your homework before you can watch TV.' It is not as strong as 'must' and is used when something is not a requirement, but more of a suggestion.

Do the two words share the same pronunciation?

No, the two words do not share the same pronunciation. Must is pronounced with a short 'u' sound, as in 'must-uh'. Have to is pronounced with a long 'a' sound, as in 'hav-tuh'.

What are some common mistakes people make when using these words?

One common mistake people make is using 'have to' when they really mean 'must'. For example, 'You have to stop by the store' is not as strong as 'You must stop by the store'. Another common mistake is using 'must' when 'have to' is a better choice. For example, 'I must get a new phone' is not as appropriate as 'I have to get a new phone'.

Fill in the gaps to check yourself

1. I _____ finish this project by tomorrow.

2. You _____ be at the airport by 7 am to catch your flight.

3. She _____ eat gluten-free because she has an allergy.

4. They dont _____ work on weekends; its their company policy.

5. We _____ obey the law.

6. Does he really _____ wear a tie to the event?

1. Must / Have to

Explanation: Both must and have to can be used to express strong obligation. Therefore, either word is acceptable in this context.

2. Have to

Explanation: Have to is often used to describe external obligations or rules. In this case, the flights schedule (an external factor) dictates the time of arrival.

3. Has to

Explanation: Has to is suitable here because the obligation to eat gluten-free stems from an external condition (allergy).

4. Have to

Explanation: This describes an external rule or obligation set by the company. Thus, have to is the appropriate choice.

5. Must

Explanation: While both must and have to can work, must is often used for obligations that feel more universal, like moral or societal obligations, making it slightly more fitting in this context.

6. Have to

Explanation: The phrasing of the question suggests a sense of external obligation or expectation, making have to the slightly more fitting choice.

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List of Commonly Confused Words

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