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English language help
by Fred Martin

On this page you are invited to post questions about the use of the English language. I am a native speaker and I will do my best to answer them.

Ask Fred a question

Question:
What are the differences between the usages of "have to" ,"ought to" ,"must" ,"should" and "should"? [Abdulrahman Alhajjaj]

Fred's answer:
It's a matter of degree of necessity. If I had to put them in order, I would say: ought to, should, have to, must.
Having said that, there's very little difference between 'should' and 'ought to'. Both leave the listener in doubt as to whether you will do it. 'Ought to' is not used as much nowadays, and never as a question or in the negative. You would always say 'Should I?' and 'I shouldn't'.
'Have to' and 'must' are much stronger and imply that you will definitely do it. Again they are very similar, but in the negative they have totally different meanings:
'I don't have to' means 'I can do it if I like, but it's OK if I don't want to'.
'I must not' means 'I have no choice; I am not to do it'.

Comments:

Comment

Question:
When should we use 'going to' and when Present Continuous tense, if we want to talk about the future? [Jurgita Bertuliene]

Fred's answer:
In many cases they are interchangeable, but:
I would use the Present Continuous for something that has been arranged with other people, e.g.
"I'm meeting Paul tomorrow". (Paul knows about this)
We're selling our house." (arrangements have been made for the house to be put on the market)
and 'going to' for something I have decided to do but haven't arranged it with anyone else, e.g.
I'm going to phone Paul tomorrow. (he doesn't know I'm going to phone him)
We're going to sell our house. (This is what we plan to do, but we haven't made any arrangements yet)

Comments:
Thanks (Jurgita Bertuliene)
It is very clear- thanks (Abdo Hajjaj)

Comment


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