Must vs Have To (and vs Should)

In this episode, we learn about the difference between Must and Have to. We use Should when we give advice to someone, but we use Must when give orders, and we use Have To when we follow the rules. Enjoy :)


You are listening to English Made Simple. This is Episode 29. Hello! Hola! Hello everybody. Thank You for joining me. My name is Milena, and welcome to yet another episode of English Made Simple or EMS for short or if you want to spell it out or if you want to abbreviate, you can say ‘EMS’ or E to the M to the S if you want to rap like Jay-Z. Okay, enough Milena. Welcome everyone. Here at English Made Simple, I try my best to teach you English in a way that is easy to understand so that you can then start speaking English immediately, and with confidence. You will be able to go out there in the wild, in the jungle face to face with the natives. Jungle means selva in Spanish. So you will be able to go out there in the jungle and face the natives. Scary stuff! Scary stuff indeed! But you know, it is doable, completely doable. I am just exaggerating of course. It is not that scary at all. The natives don’t bite. No muerden. Well, depends where you go, you know.

Alright, enough of this gibberish nonsense basura. Alright guys, if you are new to the show, welcome and keep listening. If you are “old” to the show, welcome back and thanks for sticking around. ‘Sticking around’ is a phrasal verb just means thanks for staying with me and supporting me so far. Thanks hips, much appreciate it. Did anyone find my last episode useful; have you try using the word, ‘should’ to give advice to someone? You actually did your homework? Ha, I don’t believe you. Well I did not give you homework but you could practice with somebody. And guess what guys; I have a very busy week so far. A lot of new listeners sending messages to say hello. Did you know there are over 200 countries listening to the show now? It is truly becoming global. Very exciting stuff! I am over the moon. It is just another way to say, you are excited. You can say, ‘I am over the moon’.

Very exciting! Most of you have received my email with the subject line, something like, ‘My story and why I started English Made Simple’. You have learnt a little bit about me, who I am, you know, it is good to know. I just want to say thank you for those who reply to the email. It is very nice to meet you. It is good to get to know you and learn something about my listeners. It is also a good way for me to know what level of English you are at, so I can prepare for my next episode and if you haven’t received the email yet, it is probably sitting in the spam folder or the junk folder somewhere and it is not supposed to be there, you must move it to you inbox, otherwise you will miss out. Move it to your Inbox!

Enough Milena, let’s continue and now I would like to send greetings to a few listener who took their time to message me this week. Special hello to David from Guatemala, Karen from Chile, Javier from Mexico, Alonso from Chile, Joao from Brazil. Awesome stuff guys! Thank you for your kind words and I am super excited that there are more and more people tuning in to this show. Bloody awesome! ‘Bloody awesome’ a very British thing to say.

Hey everyone, let’s get back on the track, shall we? You are welcome to share this show with your friends. I give you permission. You are allowed to do it, so just do it as the Nike slogan goes ‘Just Do It’… You know the English expression, ‘The more the merrier’. Righto. Let’s continue. In the last episode, we learnt about the word ‘should’. Now let’s compare ‘should’, ‘must’ and ‘have to’. I’ve noticed that some of my students get confused about these three words, so I am going to simplify for you. I am going to summarize this for you, so you don’t confused next time. Okay, so ‘should’ we learnt in the last episode. The word’ should’ we use when we give opinion or give advice to someone. That is when we use ‘should’, deberias.I now want to explain more about the word ‘must’ and ‘have to’. I notice that students get confused on when to use ‘must’ and when to use ‘ have to’. Sometimes it really doesn’t matter which one to use. For example, it’s getting late, I must go home or you can say it’s getting late, I have to go home. I have to go. So in this case, you can use either I must go, or I have to go.

There is a slight difference between ‘must’ and ‘have to’. Before I explain the difference, something you need to know is ‘must’ is a modal verb. there are other model verbs out there that include the word ‘shall’, ‘will’, ‘should’, ‘would’, ‘can’, ‘could’, ‘may’ and ‘might’. These are called modal verbs and they are used to express necessity or possibility. If you want to find out more about modal verb, you can google it and learn more about them. I am not going into details about the modal verbs but if you just go on google and you type ‘modal verb’ and ‘examples’, you will learn more on the other modal verb. I will cover more on that later down the track, not in this episode. In this episode, I want to focus on ‘must’ and I want to compare it with ‘have to’, tener que. So, as I mentioned earlier, there is a slight difference between ‘must’ and ‘have to’. ‘Must’ is a stronger word. It implies something is required and really necessary and important to do. A must! You can use it go give orders to someone like for example, you must do the dishes. I give orders to my husband, ‘you must do the dishes’. This is your responsibility. Okay, well that is kind of again…an exaggeration but you know… ‘Must’ is used with authority. When something is really important to do, whereas ‘have to’ is a bit impersonal and we use it you know, to state rules, facts in any situation.

We use ‘must’ to talk about the present and the future. We don’t use must in the past, it doesn’t exist. We don’t use ‘must’ in the past. Remember that. For example, we must go now, or we must go tomorrow. We don’t say we must go yesterday. It doesn’t exist. It is only in the present and in the future. We must go now, we must go tomorrow. However, ‘have to’ can be used in all forms. It can be used in present, past and future even in present perfect. In all forms. For example, my friends call me last night, so I will have to go and see her tomorrow. If I use ‘have to’ in the past tense. I had to see my friend yesterday; she needed my help with her car. So, ‘have’ is a irregular verb, ‘have’, ‘had’, ‘had’. So we use had in the past, and in the present perfect form, you can say, ‘have you ever had to change tires on the car’. We can ask a question, for example, ‘have you ever had to change tires on the car?’ Have you ever had to change tires on the car? I don’t know how to change tires on the car. I am a lady. That is a man’s job to do.

Alright, we use ‘must’ when something is really necessary and important to do. ‘Must’ is a really strong word. We use ‘have to’ when we state rules, or facts, something that has to be done.

Also guys, did you know you can use ‘must’ as a noun? For example, if you want to learn English, you must practice it every day. It’s a must! Es un deber, tu debers. You can use it as a noun like that…..So my advice to you guys is to ‘KISS’, Keep It Simple Stupid. Use ‘have to’ always, tener que.If you don’t know whether you should use ‘must’ or ‘have to’, just use ‘have to’. I have to go, tengo que ir, I have to go. It is the same in Spanish. Until you feel comfortable, then you can introduce ‘must’ into your vocabulary. Let’s keep it simple. Why not?

I have decided to give you homework now. Here is the homework. You must do it. I am giving you an order now. You must do this homework. It’s just very simple. Here is a question for you guys to think about. Let’s think about your plans for tomorrow. Here is the question: What is one thing that you have to do tomorrow? Think about it. What is one thing you will have to do tomorrow? Tomorrow morning, I have to get up early and go to work. Tomorrow I have to go to the supermarket because I have to buys stuffs, I need to buys things. Tomorrow I have to go to the supermarket because I have to cook, I need to eat. Hopefully, it is crystal clear. That is your homework. What’s the one thing you have to do tomorrow? Awesome! Give that a try.

Before we finish up, can someone please explain what is happening with the Olympics, dios mio! I was following the tennis. My countrysman ‘Djokovic’ is out. ‘Nadal’ is out. Both of them lost to the Argentinian, Del Potro. I was hoping Nishikori would win. In the end, I was really going for Nishikori but he was out as well. Now it is between Andy Murray and Del Potro. I am cheering for Del Potro now because I am not a big fan of Andy. I think Andy won the gold in the last Olympics didn’t he. I hope you enjoyed this one guys. Thanks again for joining me. I can’t believe this is episode 29. Wow! Time flies indeed. Don’t forget, all transcriptions are available on my website, If you have any questions on any of the topics we covered in this show, please let me know in the Facebook group, English Made Simple or my website. This podcast is for you and I am here to help you learn, so let’s do this. Until next time, Hasta la proxima!

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