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Hi. I read quite a lot about these three, however I still have some doubts from time to time.

Let's imagine such a scene.

A guy is at the party, everybody's having fun, but he suddenly stands up and says:

a) All right guys, I have to go.

b) All right guys, I must go.

c) All right guys, I need to go.

Could you tell me, shortly, how I should understand each of his statements?
Comments  
Hi,

I read quite a lot about these three, however I still have some doubts from time to time.

Let's imagine such a scene. Here are a few brief and perhaps somewhat subjective comments.

A guy is at the party, everybody's having fun, but he suddenly stands up and says:

a) All right guys, I have to go. This is the most idiomatic. He might also say 'I've got to (gotta) go'.

b) All right, guys. I must go. Sounds a bit like 'It's necessary, although I don't want to'.

c) All right guys, I need to go. Sounds a bit like I nevertheless may not go.

Could you tell me, shortly, how I should understand each of his statements?

Best wishes, Clive

Clive
Hi,

I read quite a lot about these three, however I still have some doubts from time to time.

Let's imagine such a scene. Here are a few brief and perhaps somewhat subjective comments.

A guy is at the party, everybody's having fun, but he suddenly stands up and says:

a) All right guys, I have to go. This is the most idiomatic. He might also say 'I've got to (gotta) go'.

b) All right, guys. I must go. Sounds a bit like 'It's necessary, although I don't want to'.

c) All right guys, I need to go. Sounds a bit like I nevertheless may not go.

Could you tell me, shortly, how I should understand each of his statements?

Best wishes, Clive



Hi

So "must" is stronger than "have to"? And "need" is the weakest of them? I thought that when you say "have to" you have no choice.
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Hi,

So "must" is stronger than "have to"? And "need" is the weakest of them? Very generally speaking, although I did say my comments were a bit subjective. And, of course, much depends on the context.

I thought that when you say "have to" you have no choice. Again, depends on the context.

OK guys, I have to go. But hell, if you buy me another drink I'll stay.

Clive
I have to go / I've got to go / I('ve) gotta go => Normal, most common
I must go => same as "have to", but much less common in American English.
I need to go => ok. It says "going somewhere" is a need you have, for some reason. I wouldn't know how to explain the difference between this and the others, but I guess in many contexts it probably sounds a little but less "strong" than the others.

Just my non-native opinions, anyway. Emotion: wink
Thanks Emotion: smile
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a) All right guys, I have to go. The speaker is obligated to leave. Maybe he has an appointment to keep.

b) All right guys, I mustgo. The meaning is the same as the previous. Not used in the United States unless you're dressed in a top hat and tails. And in that case, you would rephrase as "Gentlemen, I must go." Emotion: smile

c) All right guys, I need to go. The meaning is almost the same as the previous two. The obligation may be more "internal" (psychological).
CJ
Thanks CJ. So, actually, there is not much difference between "must" and "have to"?

If someone says: You must go! OR You have to go! They mean almost the same?
In an AmE context, at the New York Times, the frequencies are:
16,200 from nytimes.com for "I have to go"
1,680 from nytimes.com for "I must go"
1,490 from nytimes.com for "I need to go"
In an BrE context, at the BBC, the frequencies are:
4,870 from bbc.co.uk for "I have to go"
1,040 from bbc.co.uk for "I must go"
2,190 from bbc.co.uk for "I need to go"
thus one can say that the AmE is much more tilted towards the first than the BrE.
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