You should do it.

You have to do it.

Does should show suggestion and have to show compulsion or motivation?

  • Please do not attempt to use ˋbackticksˋ for the use–mention distinction and for quoting: they do not work like that on ELU, because they make blue fugly monospace You have to use *asterisks* to properly set something in italic here.
    – tchrist
    Aug 25, 2013 at 18:43

2 Answers 2


You are correct...

  • "Should" is suggestive: It's most likely also optional (e.g., "you should use an umbrella when you walk in the rain, or you might get a little bit wet"), although if it were tied to a serious consequence then the "required" sentiment would be implied (sometimes a wife will give her husband a hint in this manner, but when he hears it he may recognize that it really isn't optional).

  • "Have to" is a requirement: It's not optional, and any motivation may be tied to some consequence of not doing what one has to do (e.g., "you have to breath or you will not survive").


Should - it will be good if you do that. Have - it will be bad if you don't do that.

I think should implies that the person has more choice in the matter.

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