A Serious Case


1) A Serious Case
2) Vocabulary Box
3) Grammar Spot: Have to



A Serious Case

A newly married doctor received a phone call inviting him to go and play cards.

“I have to go out, darling,” he said to his wife.

“Oh no, not again,” she said. “Is it serious?”

“Oh yes,” replied her husband, “there are three doctors there already.”



Let’s explain some of the words in today’s joke!

– The meaning of newly is recently.

– To reply means to answer, to react to an action by someone else.




In our previous lesson, we learnt that we can use ‘must’ and ‘have to’ to say that it is necessary to do something. There are situations when it doesn’t matter whether we use ‘must’ or ‘have to”. But there is a difference in meaning between ‘must’ and ‘have to’ and sometimes this is important. In today’s lesson we are going to explore precisely these differences.

A distinction would be that ‘must’ refers to an internal, personal need or obligation while ‘have to’ is used to refer to an external, impersonal need or obligation.

In England, you have to drive on the left.
In Britain, most children have to wear a uniform when they go to school.
Tim has to wear a tie at work.

In each of the above examples, the obligation is imposed from outside. ‘Have to’ is used to talk about rules, laws, whereas must is useful for official notices and instructions.

Every man has to do military service in my country.
Policemen have to wear a uniform.

You must carry your passport at all times.
You must not smoke in the toilets.


I must work harder otherwise I won’t pass the exam. (It’s my own decision)
I can’t come out with you tonight. I have to work. (impersonal, external obligation)

‘Mustn’t’ and ‘don’t have to’ are quite different, the first indicating that something is prohibited, while the second implies an absence of obligation or need.

You mustn’t do something = It is necessary that you don’t do it.

It’s a very important meeting. You mustn’t be late.
Don’t make so much noise. We mustn’t wake up the baby.

You don’t have to do something = You don’t need to do it, but you can if you want.

I don’t have to get up early at weekend.
We don’t have to pay. It’s free.

Some remarks:

1. In spoken British English you can also use ‘have got to’ and ‘haven’t got to’.

There has got to be a mistake.
You haven’t got to leave now.

2. People often drop the ‘have’ from ‘have got to’. But in formal writing ‘got to’ is not ordinarily considered acceptable.

We got to get up early.
You got to go.

3. We can use ‘have’ to in all tenses, and also with modal auxiliaries.

Why did you have to go to the hospital?
We’ll have to be there at 10 o’clock.
She may have to do it again.


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That was all for today. I hope you have enjoyed yourself and learnt
new useful things. Till next time, take care.

Your tutor,

Copyright© 2007 English Through Jokes. All Rights Reserved.


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