have to

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Alternative forms[edit]

  • hafta (informal, nonstandard)


Dates back at least to the Old English habban + to construction, with the same meaning as sense 1 below.



have to (third-person singular simple present has to, present participle having to, simple past and past participle had to)

  1. Must; need to; to be urged to; to be required to; indicates obligation.
    Synonyms: have got to, got to, gotta
    You have to wear a seat belt.
    I have to go to the bathroom.
    I just have to have that shirt.
    • 1897 December (indicated as 1898), Winston Churchill, chapter I, in The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., →OCLC:
      I was about to say that I had known the Celebrity from the time he wore kilts. But I see I will have to amend that, because he was not a celebrity then, nor, indeed, did he achieve fame until some time after I left New York for the West.
    • 1951 September, “Notes and News: New Station for Glasgow Zoo”, in Railway Magazine, page 639:
      Before the new station could be built, a private overbridge had to be raised, and the railway regraded.
    • 2013 July-August, Henry Petroski, “Geothermal Energy”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 4:
      Energy has seldom been found where we need it when we want it. Ancient nomads, wishing to ward off the evening chill and enjoy a meal around a campfire, had to collect wood and then spend time and effort coaxing the heat of friction out from between sticks to kindle a flame.
    • 2023 December 27, Stephen Roberts, “Bradshaw's Britain: the way to Weymouth”, in RAIL, number 999, page 55:
      The railway ran through the resort's narrow streets up to Weymouth Quay station, with thoughtlessly parked vehicles sometimes having to be bumped out of the way.
  2. (with be) Must; expresses a logical conclusion.
    Synonyms: be bound to, have got to, got to, gotta, must
    that has to be the postman;  it has to be an electrical fault

Usage notes[edit]

  • have is always followed by an infinitive verb, unless the verb is assumed:
I don't want to go to school, but I have to.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

See also[edit]