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15. Must, have to and need in the Interrogative


Asking External authority

the authority


Future must I? etc. shall I/we have to? shall I/we need to?

need I? etc. will he have to? will he need to?

Present must I? etc. do I/we have to? do I/we need to?

need I etc. does he have to? does he need to?

have I/we (got) to?

has he (got) to?

Past did he have to? etc.

did he need to? etc.

had he got to? etc.


Both need? and must? are used to ask about the wishes or intentions of the person one is speaking to. Need? also implies that the speaker is hoping for a negative answer: Must I go, mother? and Need I go, mother? mean the same, but in the second question the speaker is hoping that his mother will say No. Note possible answers:

Shall I have to go? - Yes, you will/No, you won’t.

Have I got to go? - Yes, you have/ No, you haven’t.

Does he have to go? - Yes, he does/No, he doesn’t.

Need I go? - Yes, you must/No, you needn’t.

Must I go? - Yes, you must/No, you needn’t.

16. NEEDN’T + Perfect Infinitive

If you say that somebody needn’t have done something, it means that he did it, but that it was unnecessary: he wasted his time.

You needn’t have woken me up: I don’t have to go to work today.

She needn’t have hurried.

17. Needn’t have done Compared with didn’t have/need to do

A. needn’t have done: no obligation but action performed (unnecessarily), i.e. time wasted:

You needn’t have watered the flowers, for it’s going to rain.

(waste of time)

He needn’t have bought such a large house. His wife would have been quite happy in a cottage. (waste of money)

B. Didn’t have/need to do: no obligation, and normally no action:

I didn’t need to translate it for him for he understands Dutch.

I didn’t have to cut the grass myself. My brother did it.

(no obligation and no action)