First speaker:

You do not have to hit me to prove your point


Yes I do

Is this conversation valid? Valid in the sense that if a conversation like this should occur, there is no error?

Just to put things in perspective, this is a friendly conversation between two people, but a third person speaks up, saying the reply is inaccurate because "have to" expresses past tense. Consequently, the proper reply should have been "Yes I did."

  • The two statements are grammatically correct. The first statement is not a question. The second statement is subjectively inaccurate. Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 19:59
  • What do you mean by "valid"?
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 22:00
  • I think the edited question should make things clearer Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 1:56
  • "Have to" doesn't imply past tense. If it were in the past it would be "You didn't have to hit me ..."
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 2:54

1 Answer 1


First a point about the words ‘valid’ and ‘correct’. Strictly, validity is a property of arguments: an argument is valid if the conclusion follows ‘validly’ from the premises. But either a proposition or an argument might be called ‘correct’.

When it comes to your particular argument, it does slightly depend what the point is. Suppose, for example, the aggressor’s point were:

I can go on hitting you as long as I like and you can’t stop me.

I can think of no other ‘proof’ than to go on hitting until the victim gives in! It would, of course be physical abuse and not an argument.

But, in general, this is a report of an quarrel in which the assailant has become unhinged and, failing to persuade, has resorted to violence. So neither validity nor correctness applies.

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