"Don't Have To" In Context

Alexey86

Member
Hi, everybody! Could you check, please, whether i've found the right context for the sentence below:
You don't have to stand here. -> the context: a boss just noticed his employee working in a standing position in the workplace (= "here"), wich is actually not necessarily, and in the case the empoyee had decided he had to, the boss just allowed him to sit.
 
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  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    The context doesn't really help us to understand the meaning. There are at least two possibilities:
    1. Here in this company, employees are not required to remain standing; you may sit down.
    2. It's not required for you to be here, in the place where you're standing; stand somewhere else.
     

    Alexey86

    Member
    Thank you! So, the comma changes the meaning. I didn't even know that "don't have to" might convey the meaning of prohibithion or order. I thought it means only "smth is not necessary; you have a choice; you may do or may not do smth". But I'm sill a bit confused about the ambiguity. If I said to someone "You don't have to stand here" and then continued "You may sit down", wouldn't it clarify the context and, respectively, the meaning?
     
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    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Yes, that would be clearer.

    ... I didn't even know that "don't have to" might convey the meaning of prohibithion or order...
    You're right, it's not a question of the technical meaning of the words, but the emotional content of the sentence. For example, you might say to someone "Do you have to do that?" and it would mean "If you do that, I will be annoyed". So: "It's three o'clock in the morning. Do you have to play the trumpet?"
     
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