Learn Fluent American English: Must vs Have to


Learning English is not easy, but can be both fun and challenging. You must have heard people talk of their own experiences and struggles trying to become fluent in English. There are so many little words and phrases that can either make you sound more natural, or less natural, depending on how you use them. Everybody wants to sound like a native speaker and that takes effort and perseverance.


In these American English language tips Gabby provides hints and suggestions on how to sound less stiff and more native-like. If you want to achieve success at American English fluency, you have to listen to as much American English as you can, whether it be music, radio, or television programs. You should also take advantage of all the resources that Gabby makes available to you.


Make sure you visit old.gonaturalenglish.com and get a free eBook guide and don’t be afraid to join some of the many English language conversations that are going on. Almost everybody there has been nervous at one time or another about being embarrassed by their accents, or vocabulary, or grammar. The Go Natural English community is there to support you and encourage you along the way to American English fluency.




Episode transcript below:


Hello there! How are you doing?

Welcome to Go Natural English.

In this video tip we’re going to take a great question from Paolo.

Paolo asked, “What is the difference between ‘Must’ and ‘Have to?’”

Paolo, I love this question because the confusion I think comes from traditional – I was going to say “bad.”

I don’t want to say “bad” – I don’t like passing judgment but you know what? Bad!

Bad traditional English lessons that are too focused on grammar and that don’t look at real, natural conversational use of English – at least American English.

Remember, I’m your American English teacher so I’m talking always about American English.

So, “Must” and “Have to” according to the grammar books are very similar.

They mean the same thing, right?

Kind of like “Should – You should do something” – it’s a suggestion but more powerful, right?

So, here’s the catch.

What your grammar books don’t tell you is that we really only use “Must” when we’re talking about probability.

This is how we really use “Must” in conversation – in daily use.

You know how I know when someone hasn’t had enough exposure to real English is when they use “Must” to suggest something.

Like “You must go to bed at 8 PM because it is good to go to bed early.”

Okay, thanks.

It sounds really unnatural.

You could say in a better, more natural way “You should” or “You have to go to bed at 8 PM” right?

That’s really early

I don’t know why I said 8 PM.

Oh, another dead giveaway that you really haven’t had much exposure to natural English is if you say, “Ought to.”

“You ought to go to bed at 8 PM.”

Now, actually I should take that back because I think people might say that in other countries like maybe British English but like I said – disclaimer – I am teaching American English.

I am American.

I have very little exposure to British English so keep that in mind.

Okay, so “Must” is used for probability, not suggestions.

In real life, okay, I’m talking about real-life usage so, “You must have” so we always use – I shouldn’t say always but most of the time we use “Must” and “Have” together.

“Oh, you must have read the weather report; you brought your umbrella, so you know it’s going to rain.”

Wonderful, okay?

“Oh, you must have gone to bed at 8 PM last night because you’re looking so handsome today” – so, probability, right.

We use “Must have” to show probability which is not actually discussed that often in traditional English classes.

It makes me so mad because that’s how we actually use it.

So, remember – “Must have” for probability and “Have to” for suggestions, and that is the true difference in real American English conversation.

If you like learning about real, natural, native English – American English – then come over to old.gonaturalenglish.com where I’d like to give you a free eBook guide to help your fluency in English and I would love to invite you to join the premium Go Natural English course.

Find out all about it at old.gonaturalenglish.com.

In the meantime make sure you’ve subscribed here on YouTube.

Come on back because I am releasing tons of English tips three times a week, so, I’d love for you to leave a comment, share the tips, and join the conversation on social media.

You can find Go Natural English on Facebook and also on Twitter – ooh – and Google Plus.

We’re all over the place.

Thanks so much for watching and I’ll talk to you again real soon.

Bye for now.

SPECIAL INVITATION: Complete this form and click the button to gain instant access!

Join me to level up your English skills with 30 days of my best free lessons, sent directly to your email inbox!

We respect your privacy.