'have to' vs. 'must'

< Previous | Next >

kamkam1

New Member
Polish
Hi :)

Please, help me justify this :)

have to/must
'The dinner party is starting. You _______ stop talking on your mobile.'

If, as the rules on the same page of the coursebook say, 'must' is used for an internal need/obligation and 'have to' for an obligation coming from the outside, than why 'must' is the only acceptable answer to fill in the gap according to the key?


Is it about a sense of moral obligation (as I found in one of the posts here)? Or is there a better way to justify it? Why 'have to' is incorrect? (the key suggests two answers where possible)
 
  • lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    This might just be a bad question. I would actually strongly favor "ought to" in this case, because it's not a moral/ethical obligation in question here but instead a question of suggested or recommended action - how best to behave in a social situation.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Hullo Kamkam:)

    :(:( Oh dear, life would be so much easier if we only had one modal for obligation, wouldn't it? Sometimes it can only be have to, sometimes it can only be must. That leaves a huge number of instances where it could be either, depending on various factors.

    If the sentence had been:
    Haven't you read all the signs? ~ you have to stop talking on your mobile in here.
    it could only be have to, because the obligation is so obviously external.

    With your sentence, it can really only be must*, because, though the reason for the obligation is external ('the dinner party starting'), the actual obligation itself should come from within you: it is, as you say, a kind of moral (or 'social', or 'etiquette-related') obligation that you stop talking.

    EDIT: * Of the options given. I tend to agree with Lucas that must isn't necessarily the best choice ~ I personally would've chosen should:D
     

    koniecswiata

    Senior Member
    Am English
    As with so much (unfortunately) in ESL textbooks (though, they are getting better on this point), this "rule" is arbitrary and prescriptive and not present in real life English. All the following are correct:

    The dinner party is starting. You must stop talking on your mobile.
    The dinner party is starting. You have to stop talking on your mobile.

    Both mean "obligation"--I don't know about the internal, external, moral, etc... values of the obligation. I'm an English teacher, and have never heard of thsat one. I guess I haven't run into that textbook yet :).

    If you use "ought to", you would be weakening the obligation. It may be more polite to use "ought to" but it does not convey the same degree of obligation. It is on par with "should". It is more of a recommendation, hence more polite--but with a different meaning. Remember, culturally, the English-speaking world places a lot of importance on being polite and civil--this sometimes means less direct ways of conveying ideas.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    << Moderator note.
    The topic is set out clearly in the first post.
    Please do not introduce, or respond to, side issues that divert the thread from the topic.
    panjandrum >>
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    As with so much (unfortunately) in ESL textbooks (though, they are getting better on this point), this "rule" is arbitrary and prescriptive and not present in real life English. All the following are correct:

    The dinner party is starting. You must stop talking on your mobile.
    The dinner party is starting. You have to stop talking on your mobile.

    Both mean "obligation"--I don't know about the internal, external, moral, etc... values of the obligation. I'm an English teacher, and have never heard of thsat one. I guess I haven't run into that textbook yet :).
    I'm not an English teacher but that is how I learned it.

    "I have to do my homework." = This is an external requirement. I may not want to do it but it is a requirement (of a class, a parent, etc.)
    "I must do my homework." = This is an internal motivation, based on some standard I have internalized.

    It seems to me that the distinction is pretty clear, even in casual conversation.
     

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Hullo, kam.

    I see things a little differently.

    Suppose my doctor says to me "You must stay in bed". By saying that - and due to his authority and authoritativeness - he is "installing" an obligation in me. In fact, when my friends visit me, I'll be able to say "I have to stay in bed", showing the obligation that I HAVE.

    A new scenario. I'm feeling "under the weather" and I say to myself "I must take an aspirin".

    In both "You must stay in bed" and "I must take an aspirin" it is the speaker who tells the subject of the sentence what to do. (In the 2nd sentence the referent of the Subject of the sentence is the same as the referent of the Speaker, but things work in the same way).
    In "I have to stay in bed", on the other hand, the speaker limits himself to saying what he HAS - an obligation TO do something that someone else has already "bestowed" upon him.

    As far as your gap-filling test is concerned, there's no way to say which of the previous scenarios the course-book author had in mind. I personally feel that all of the following would be possible:

    'The dinner party is starting. You _______ stop talking on your mobile.'

    must, have to, should, ought to, had better, better (very informal)

    Best.

    GS
     

    kamkam1

    New Member
    Polish
    Thank you all for your answers. Now I just need to find a brief way to give the reasons to my students ;)

    @lucas @ewie: Unfortunately, should and ought to are not an option here - I can only choose between 'have to' and 'must'. The key says 'must'.

    @koniecswiata: The book is 'Oxford Excellence for matura. New Exam Builder' OUP 2011 p. 82. Internal/external distinction is mentioned.
     

    NevenaT

    Senior Member
    Serbian/Croatian
    I don't understand the difference because in the book Grammar Lab for Intermediate students it says that "have to" is used to express necessity, while in the Word Reference dictionary it says "must" is used to express necessity.
    Would you say:

    "I must work out if I want to stay in shape." or
    "I have to work out if I want to stay in shape."?
     
    Last edited:
    < Previous | Next >
    Top