When should I use ‘have to’?

I’m sorry I’m late. My wife is sick and so this morning I should take my son to school. And I’m sorry but I should leave early today to take him home.

OK so this is an Indonesian student over-translating ‘harus’ as ‘should’. Actually there are situations when we have to use ‘have to’ instead of ‘should’. Take a look at the following examples and try the exercises that follow.

As a teacher I have to [1] get up early on work days because I have to [2] be in class at 8 o’clock. I drive to work, although I should [3] probably use a motorcycle, which is faster and more convenient in Bali.

When I was a musician I didn’t have to [4] get up early. On the other hand I had to [5] be on stage most evenings at 8 o’clock. I had to [6] drive to gigs because I had to [7] carry many drums. I know what you’re thinking – I should’ve [8] chosen a smaller instrument like the violin. Yes, but then I would have had to [9] play the violin!

Discussion

  1. In which situations do/did/would I have a choice?
  2. In which situations do/did/would I NOT have a choice?

Complete the rule:

In the present:

  • we use ________________ to talk about situations when it is a good idea to do something, but we have a choice. (We probably don’t do it!)
  • we use ________________ to talk about situations when we have NO choice. (We do it, even if we don’t want to!)

In the past:

  • we use ________________ to talk about situations when it would have been a good idea to do something, but we didn’t do it, even though we had a choice.
  • we use ________________ to talk about situations when we had NO choice. (We did it, even if we didn’t want to!)

(scroll down for answers!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discussion

  1. In which situations do/did/would I have a choice? [Answer: 1,2,4,5,6,7,9]
  2. In which situations do/did/would I NOT have a choice? [Answer: 3,8]

Complete the rule:

In the present:

  • we use should to talk about situations when it is a good idea to do something, but we have a choice. (We probably don’t do it!)
  • we use have to to talk about situations when we have NO choice. (We do it, even if we don’t want to!)

In the past:

  • we use should have + V3 to talk about situations when it would have been a good idea to do something, but we didn’t do it, even though we had a choice.
  • we use had to to talk about situations when we had NO choice. (We did it, even though we didn’t want to!)

When corrected, the opening example reads as follows:

🙂 I’m sorry I’m late. My wife is sick and so this morning I had to take my son to school. And I’m sorry but I have to leave early today to take him home.

Hope that helps!

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