Have To vs. Have Got To

'Have to' and 'have got to' mean the same but they have different levels of formality. In this lesson, we will learn all about them.

"Have To" vs. "Have Got To" in the English grammar

What Is Their Main Difference?

The main difference between 'have to' and 'have got to' is that 'have got to' is more informal than 'have to.'

Have to

'Have to' is a semi-modal verb (also known as semi-modals). Semi-modals function similarly to modals. They sometimes act like modals and sometimes act like a main verb. It is used to express necessities, obligations, certainty, etc. For instance:

I have to take out the trash.

She has to call the customer service.

Have got to

'Have got to' functions similarly to 'have to.' It is used when you are saying that something is necessary. This is specially used in British English. Have a look:

You have got to be kidding me.

They have got to eat more vegetables.

Uses

Talking about Obligation

We use 'have to' and 'have got to' to talk about obligations and necessities. Obligations are what needs to be done and if not fulfilled might lead to penalty and punishment. For instance:

They have to be present at court.

They have got to be present at court.

With Tenses

'Have to' can be used in past, present, and future tense:

I had to turn in my project sooner than expected.

I have to turn in my project sooner than expected.

I will have to turn in my project sooner than expected.

On the other hand, 'have got to' is used only in the present tense:

I have got to pick up my son from school.

They have got to move out by the end of the month.

Structure

Affirmative Form

In this form, we place 'have to' and 'have got to' before the main verb. Take a look at the following examples:

You have to try skydiving.

You have got to try skydiving.

Negative Form

The negative form of 'have to' and 'have got to' is created through the pattern illustrated below:

  • do/did/does + not + have to

She didn't have to pay for this.

I don't have to explain anything to you.

  • have + not + got + to

She hasn't got to pay for this.

I haven't got to explain anything to you.

Interrogative Form

To ask questions with 'have to' and 'have got to,' we follow the pattern shown below:

  • Do/Did/Does + subject + have to + main verb + …?

Did she have to pay for this?

Do I have to explain anything to you?

  • Have + subject + got to + main verb + …?

Has she got to pay for this?

Have I got to explain anything to you?

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