English isn't my native language, of course, to ask something like this.

I personally thought that "have not to do something" and "have to not do something" were the same. But recently, I've seen a (self-claimed) native speaker in an English forum state they're different.

For example:

  1. You mustn't stay up late.

    Clear, you don't have any choice, you don't do it.

  2. You don't have to stay up late.

    Clear, you have got a choice. You don't do it if you don't want to, do if you want. It's not necessary to do it.

  3. You have not to/(haven't to) stay up late.

    Same as mustn't (per that English forum).

  4. You have to not stay up late.

    Not clear? I think it is the same as 3.

  • 3 is the same as 2, except very rare in modern-day English. The Irish might say it occasionally, but I doubt you'll hear many Brits say, and it's all but completely absent in AmE. 4 means more or less the same as 1: “It is necessary that you do not”. Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 10:41
  • Would you mind to let me know, are you native Am-English speaker? Because I saw the fact that other B-English speakers don't share the same idea with you in this issue. - for details, read from #7 to the end. forum.wordreference.com/…
    – Edward
    Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 10:58
  • 1
    As a native Br-English speaker, I'd say that #3 is very unusual, and consider it to be either archaic or dialect, rather than standard modern English.
    – tobyink
    Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 12:50
  • @Edward, an odd and somewhat haphazard mixture of both, I'm afraid, though perhaps somewhat skewed towards AmE, at least in some ways. In this particular case, though, I just don't know if I'm skewed towards one or the other, since I don't believe I've ever heard anyone actually say that someone hasn’t to do something, British or American. I've only seen it written, and I don't recall what dialect(s) I've seen it written in. Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 12:56
  • @tobyink: Yeah, I know it's so rare, maybe not even useful at all. #3 is the one that I haven't never use myself. Just curious about it usage after read in wordreference forum. Actually when I was a student, I thought it's mistake to type "haven't to" any any sentence. I don't defend for #3 usability, it's just there for my question. Janus: Thanks for your help. I'm more than agree with you about #3 rareness and weirdness. I don't use it myself, either. But for this question about English. And I'm curious about its meaning (compares to other formal ones), not it odds/weirdness.
    – Edward
    Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 13:08

1 Answer 1


The usual expressions you hear are:

You mustn't stay up late.
You have to not state up late.

These mean that it is forbidden to stay up late.

You don't have to stay up late.
You don't need to stay up late.
You needn't stay up late.

These mean that it is not necessary to stay up late.

This leaves your statement 3:

I haven't to stay up late.

As the comments say, "I have not to" is an incredibly rare expression in English. If I've heard anybody use "I have not to", I have forgotten it. But given the rules of English grammar, it should mean the same thing as "I don't have to".

The only difference between "I have not to" and "I don't have to" is that one uses do-support and the other doesn't. In English, adding do support can give a statement emphasis, but it doesn't change the meaning. In the same way that "I haven't a clue" means the same thing as "I don't have a clue", wouldn't the natural assumption be that "I haven't to go" means "I don't have to go"?

Of course, if "I haven't to" was an idiom, the idiomatic usage could overrule this natural assumption. But nobody uses it, so it's not an idiom. So I have to believe that if it means anything, it means "I don't have to".

UPDATE: In the book Survey of English Dialects, found through Google books, it says that "I haven't to" means "I mustn't" in the Du dialect of English. So in some region of England, it is an idiom. Outside of that region, I would assume that it means I don't have to, which is what it seems to mean in the majority of the instances I have found through Google books. I can't be sure what Du means, since the key isn't on one of the previewable pages but it's probably Durham, a city and a county in northern England.

  • 1
    Uhm, so that's your opinion which sounds reasonable to me. But few days recently, I don't really find myself accept whole idea of "I don't have to" = "I haven't to" due do-support concept. Because, one Br-English speaker states A=B (equal), another Br-English speaker persists in their fact A≠B (not equal). A "don't have to", B "haven't to". I'm not a biased person, so I choose to disbelieve both of sides. Native Br-English speakers say opposite things to yours (forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=504664&p=14084009) Finally, it's getting nowhere. I can't ensure about these statement,
    – Edward
    Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 14:11
  • Searching for "you haven't to", I find the citation (a woman speaking to a man): "You haven't to bicycle in skirts. The tyranny of men compels us unfortunate women to take violent exercise in utterly unsuitable clothes …", where it clearly means "You don't have to (but I do) …" so it can mean that. There are newer citations where it seems to mean "I have yet to", and in some it means "I must not". Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 14:20
  • I saw that you keep modifing your answer and improve it several times. 1st time I see your answer was wrote in a very confident tone with strong adj and statement. But now, seemingly you're also unsure about what come across your mind in 1st glance that you heard this term "haven't to do something". It reflects in your current modifications which is good thing. Thanks you for spending time help me.
    – Edward
    Commented Feb 16, 2014 at 15:06

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