Must in past tense?

This question has been answered · 20 replies
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Anonymous:
Hello,

Can we use must in past tense in this manner: Society had reached a stage where it must respect workers.

I know must is normally used in present and future tenses, but here in past perfect, it seems to be the only option. 'Must have' won't work here nor will simple past such as ... it respected workers.

Am I right?
Approved answer (verified by )
In the past, "must" becomes "had to."
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Anonymous:
Thanks, GG. What about should or ought to? Can they be used, then?
It doesn't have the same sense of requirement that "must" or "have to" or "are required to" all share.
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Anonymous:
Thank, GG, but I am asking generally whether 'should' and 'ought to' are okay in past tense or whether they too, like must, should be used in another manner? I mean, if must becomes 'had to' in past, does should/ought to become something else too? Or, can we keep it the same way?
Do you mean?

1) It should have been done long time ago.

2) It ought to have been done long time ago.

As far as I know you can use them with PERFECT INFINITIVE without changing their meaning (except the tense)
Full Member334
Anonymous:
No, Ticce, I don't mean that at all. See the first example: Society reached a stage where it must respect workers.

Suppose you change this to simple past, it becomes: Society ... where it respected workers. (this is not appropriate because simple past implies something has already happened).

Suppose we ignore simple past and use your method: Society ... where it must have respected. (this is also wrong because it implies society must have respected workers but somehow failed to do so. It leads to ambiguity).

Only 'must' is appropriate here but unfortunately, I do not know if it is used in past tense. That's why I wondered whether should/ought to (not in this example but generally speaking) can be used in past tense (as future in the past), or do they also meet the restrictions.

Hope that makes sense.
AnonymousOnly 'must' is appropriate here but unfortunately, I do not know if it is used in past tense. That's why I wondered whether should/ought to (not in this example but generally speaking) can be used in past tense (as future in the past), or do they also meet the restrictions.
Anon,
If I understand your post, I think the context should be kept in simple present prefect tesne, which should be " society has reached...." because you are making a general statement which in a nut shell says " The society has reached a point when workers should /must be respected". "Must have respected ..." won't make any sense to me.
Senior Member4,167
Anonymous:
Thanks, Dim, but if it is present tense, it would be pretty straightforward and I wouldn't have posted this in the first place. I am trying to understand how to frame it in past tense and in past tense only. So changing tense won't help.
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