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Understanding and Using Modal Verbs (#34), by Dennis Oliver

Modal Verbs #34:
Individual Modal Verbs

 

 

The English modal verbs are often challenging for learners
of English. This happens for many reasons, including both
grammar and meaning.

In this Hint, we'll look at must.


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Must (#1)

 

 

The modal auxiliary must (negative must not--which is often
contracted to
mustn't) has several uses and meanings in present
or future time. The meaning that most people are most familiar
with is
necessity--that is, a requirement.


Examples:

All airline passengers must pass through the
security checkpoint.

(It's necessary / a requirement for all airline
passengers to pass through the security checkpoint.)


If he wants to cash a check, he
must show
identification that has his picture on it.

(If he wants to cash a check, it's necessary /
a requirement for him to show identification
that has his picture on it.)


You
must not (mustn't) disturb Ms. Park
just now. She's in a very important meeting
.

(It's necessary / a requirement for you not to
disturb Ms. Park just now. She's in a very
important meeting.)


They
must not (mustn't) stay here a moment
longer! It's too dangerous!

(It's necessary / a requirement for them not
to stay here a moment longer! It's too dangerous!)

 


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Special Notes:


1.  

The expressions has to and have to (plus the simple
form of a verb) also show the meaning "necessity":

All airline passengers have to pass through the
security checkpoint.

If he wants to cash a check, he has to show
identification that has his picture on it.

     
2.  

The negatives for has to and have to are doesn't
have to
and don't have to, but these are not
the same as must not or mustn't. Instead of
showing a negative requirement, they mean that
there is
no necessity (in other words, something
doesn't matter ).

Examples:

"You must not (mustn't) stay here" means
'
Don't stay here!', but "You don't have to
stay here" means 'It isn't necessary for you
to stay here.' (It doesn't matter if you stay here
or not. You can choose what to do.)

"He must not (mustn't) go into that room"
means '
Don't go into that room!', but "He
doesn't have to go into that room" means
'It
isn't necessary for him to go into that room.'
(It doesn't matter if he goes into that room or
not. He can choose what to do.)

     
3.   In fast, casual speech, the final t in must is
often "dropped" so that
must sounds like muss.
The same thing happens with
mustn't: in fast,
casual speech it sounds like
MUSSunt.
     
4.   In fast, casual speech, has to sounds like
HASSta and have to sounds like HAFFta.

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