What’s the Difference: Must vs. Have to, Must Not vs. Don’t Have to

Learn the differences between Must vs. Have to, and Mustn’t vs. Don’t/Doesn’t Have to…

Must vs. Have to

Must

Meaning:

– Express personal obligation

– Express what the speaker thinks is necessary

– Express subjective obligation

Examples:

I must go to bed earlier.

You must answer all the questions.

Have to

Meaning:

– Express impersonal obligation

– The subject is obliged or forced to act by a separate, external power (for example, the Law or school rules)

– Express objective obligation

Examples:

I have to arrive at work at 9 sharp. My boss is very strict.

In Britain, you have to drive on the left.

Mustn’t vs. Don’t/Doesn’t Have to

Mustn’t/Must not

Meaning:

It is prohibited; it is not allowed. It is important that you do NOT do something. The prohibition can be subjective (the speaker’s opinion) or objective.

Examples:

In the army, you mustn’t go out after 9.

You mustn’t drink wine.

Don’t/Doesn’t Have to

Meaning:

There is no obligation; you are not required to do something, especially if you don’t want to.

Examples:

You don’t have to drive. I can do it.

He doesn’t have to turn here. He can turn at the next intersection.

 

What's the Difference: Must vs. Have to, Must Not vs. Don't Have to

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