Modal Verb MUST

Hello English learners. Welcome to a new lesson We will look at the use of the modal verb must.

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Use of the modal verb “must”

We use must to say that something is necessary, important or prescribed by law.

  • You must water this plant if you don’t want it to wilt.
  • You must answer all the questions on the test.
  • The gate must be locked after ten.

Use must not (mustn’t) in a negative sentence to say that something should not happen because it is regulated by law or a (social) rule.

  • You mustn’t shout when your brother is sleeping.
  • Things in the museum must not be touched.
  • We mustn’t forget how much we owe to our parents.

We also use must to say that something is most likely to have happened or to be true.

  • Their house must be worth a fortune. It’s quite big.
  • You’ve been working all day. You must be very tired.
  • I can’t see Simon. He must be at home.

We also use must to recommend things.

  • You must come and visit us sometime.
  • This dress suits you beautifully. You must buy it.
  • You must watch the film. It’s great!

We can say that something is “a must” when we think that it is necessary.

  • Good-quality boots are a must if you go hiking in the mountains.
  • If you want to learn English well, a good online dictionary is a must.

Something can be must-see, must-have, must-read, must-watch, etc. if you think that it is so interesting that people should have it, watch it, etc.

  • This bag is a must-have.
  • The new film with Robert Carlyle is a must-watch.

Must and have to

We can use must in the present only as there is no past or future form of must; it borrows all its other forms from the modal verb have to. 

  • Ann had to work overtime yesterday in order to finish her project. 
  • Do I have to wear a uniform?
  • Do you think we will have to take our shoes off?
  • Their colleague is on holiday so they’ve had to do her job, too.

Common mistakes:

Never use “to” after must:

Susan must to do her homework

Susan must do her homework.

To refer to the past, use the structure must have + past participle.

  • They are not at home. They must have gone out.
  • The thieves must have entered through the bathroom window.
  • I must have left my phone in that cafe where we stopped for a coffee.

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Modal verb MUST
Modal verb MUST

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