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What's the form for reporting speech that contains must not?

I mean:

I can't come to the meeting on Monday => She told me she couldn't come to the meeting on Monday.

You must talk to me => She said you had to talk to me.

Till now, there's no problem, but what should I use with must not?

I think that I can't do the following:

You must not talk to me => She said that you didn't have to talk to me.

because

Must not <> Have to

Am I right?

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"cannot" and "must not" mean similar things in this case. –  Joe Z. Jan 4 '13 at 2:10
    
Although "must" is synonymous with "have to", "must not" and "don't have to" mean two different things in the negative. "You must not" is "You are forbidden to", and "You don't have to" is "You are not required to". –  Peter Shor Feb 2 '13 at 12:44
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5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The negative form of must is mustn't. So you can say this:

You must not talk to me. => She said you mustn't talk to me.

The past form of must is also must, so you don't need to change the form of the verb when reporting speech in this manner.

However, the form mustn't is rarely used in American English, though I believe that it's commoner in the UK. Instead, most Americans would substitute shouldn't:

You must not talk to me. => She said you shouldn't talk to me.

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The reported speech should be in past tense (at least in some circumstances), as in the questioner's example, which this answer does not address. –  msh210 Jan 24 '11 at 18:17
    
Now this answer has "The past form of must is also must, so you don't need to change the form". Sorry? "I must go to the supermarket yesterday"? –  msh210 Jan 24 '11 at 18:37
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@msh210, none of the past modals would work in your sentence. Try substituting "would" or "should" for "must" in your sentence--it still makes no sense, because that's not what past modals are for. –  JSBձոգչ Jan 24 '11 at 18:38
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But, of course, must not is used in the US! Who says we have to contract it all the time? :) –  Jimi Oke Jan 24 '11 at 19:05
    
@JSBangs: true: my analogous sentence wasn't. –  msh210 Jan 24 '11 at 20:57
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How about, "She said you were not to talk to me"?

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I don't know if it is 'good' English, but it is common from where I grew up in the north of England.

She said you had not to talk to me

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It sounds like you are trying to report a past obligation that no longer applies?

She said that you were not to talk to me.

She said that you were not [supposed, allowed, permitted] to talk to me

She said that you could not talk to me.

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If you must use 'must' then

She said you musn't talk to him

works, but it's a little clumsy. An improvement could be

She said you musn't speak to him

but I would prefer

She forbade me to speak to him

The fact that she said it isn't the important part of the message, it's the prohibition.

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I guess you meant She forbade me to speak to him. –  kiamlaluno Jan 26 '11 at 14:27
    
@kiamlaluno indeed, thank you for spotting that. Corrected –  smirkingman Jan 26 '11 at 16:24
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protected by tchrist Feb 2 '13 at 14:01

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