How to form questions with “must” and “have to”

Hey ABA family!

Like in most languages, forming questions related to responsibility and obligation can sometimes be a little tricky. In today’s post we are going to focus on forming questions using the “must” and “to have to” forms as well as distinguishing their uses.

When is “must” the necessary option?

In English, “must” is used when we are talking about obligations. Unlike other verbs in English which usually adopt the verb “to do” as an auxiliary, “must” does not. In fact, to create the interrogative form of “must”, all we have to do is invert the subject and “must” and our interrogative is formed.


  • Must we go to the cinema tonight?
  • Must they come for dinner?
  • Must you behave that way?

As can be seen, the structure is very easy. If we wish to make the question negative, all we have to do is introduce the word “not” in between “must” and the subject. It is important to mention however, that this is almost always contracted to “mustn’t”.

Is “have to” different from “must?

Unlike “must” which we align more to obligations, we associate “to have to” as referring to general responsibilities from day to day. In addition to that, it can also be associated to responsibilities which have been put in place by someone else.

With “must” in its interrogative form, we don’t need an auxiliary verb, however with the “to have to” structure, we need the auxiliary “to do”


  • Do you have to start work at 8 O’clock every day?
  • Do you have to drive on the right in China?
  • Do we have to dress up to go to the fancy dress party?

We can see that the structure in interrogative is not difficult here either. In terms of creating a negative interrogative with “to have to”, all we have to do is insert “not” between “do” and the subject. It is important to note that like “must” and “not”, “do” and “not” are almost always contracted to “don’t”, too.

What is the key?

It is useful to note that most native English speakers often use “must” and “to have to” interchangeably, so don’t get confused by this. Just try to learn the general rules explained here and apply them where needed.

If you would like any more information on this grammar point, you can sign up for free to ABA’s course and check out unit 55

Good luck!


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