I have come across this, in a recent conversation with an educationalist. During our conversation regarding higher education; He said, "you will have to do that".

Is it the right phrase? What is the difference between these two statements?

  1. You will have to do that
  2. You have to do that (simply)

Any specific context, when one must be using each one of those.


Will generally speaks to the future, so:

  1. "You will have to do that" implies that at some point in the future, it will be required, and that it isn't required now.
  2. "You have to do that" implies current, and is a requirement now, whether that requirement continues to be present in the future is unspoken.
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You will have to do that

This is the future tense. You will need to.

If you want to lose weight, you will have to eat less or exercise more.

You have to do that

This is the present tense. You need to/ you must.

To lose weight, you have to eat less or exercise more.

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The expression for obligation and necessity for both PRESENT and FUTURE is "Have to".

The difference between them, for clarification purpose or for avoiding confusion, is the time expression.

  • I have to finish this job now. -- Present
  • I have to finish this job by next Saturday. -- Future

However, the obligation in both cases exists at the speaking moment, even if one of them will be accomplished in the future time.

On the other hand, "Will have to" is the expression for obligation and necessity used with a conditional structure "Future Possible".

If my boss calls me tonight, I will have to work (tomorrow).

In the sentence above, the obligation for working tomorrow DOES NOT exist at the speaking moment; the obligation will be in force only if the condition if my boss calls me... becomes true. This means that there is no present obligation.

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Grammatically speaking, he should have chosen from a choice of:

  1. "You must do that" to convey strong support
  2. "You should do that" to convey weak support
  3. "You ought to do that" to convey moderate support

"You have to do that" is a command, technically. It can be used to denote very strong support and American English I think we often forget the words must, should and ought to are choices. I do.

"You will have to do that" is a command but in future tense. In this case I feel like the meaning is very weak support or diversion, possibly mocking. Most often someone would choose the former. Tone is very important and context here, though.

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Obviously, some future action is being said to be essential (or highly desirable), at least for a specified result. If there is an obvious distancing to some future point, 'will' becomes more sensible.

However, there are two other usages of the 'will' form.

(b) As a hedge ('You will have to do that', with 'will' unstressed, sounds less of a command, more of a pointing out of a sensible course of action).

(c) As an emphasiser (You will have to do that).

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There are two conditions:

If there is a specific thing in conversion for him, you can say, you will have to do that. and if thing is common which is applied for everybody, you can say, you have to do that.

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