I can’t access the database. You must have to put in a password. Why can’t one say “You must put in a password.”?

Thank you.

  • 2
    I'd always put "You must enter a password" – KillingTime Sep 25 '19 at 14:52
  • @Cascabel You edited the question to be significantly different. Did the original author indicate this was a message being displayed? The original seemed to be a statement being said after being unable to log in to a database, not a message displayed by the computer. – JRodge01 Sep 26 '19 at 12:41
  • @Marcel Can you clarify if this is a message being presented to you by the database, or if it is something being said about the database? – JRodge01 Sep 26 '19 at 13:03
  • @JRodge01 These sentences were from an advanced English grammar book. One of the users has edited my original message, which should actually read: "- I can’t access the database. - You must have to put in a password. Why can’t one say “You must put in a password.”? The same user has provided a situation where "must have to" would make sense. I just wonder if simple "must" can be used in the answer. – Marcel Sep 26 '19 at 17:07
  • I suggest editing your question to clearly reflect what you're trying to ask. It was ambiguous, and the other user and I both had completely different interpretations. – JRodge01 Sep 26 '19 at 17:14

It depends on what the speaker is trying to convey.

Using either "must" or "have to" asserts that the statement is truth.

You have to put in a password.

You must put in a password.

Those both convey the same idea that there is only one path forward and that the speaker is absolutely certain.

Using both "must" and "have to" in the same sentence creates a strong assumption.

You must have to put in a password.

This meaans "I'm not certain, but I'm very confidant that you have to put in a password".

Wikipedia explains it as:

When used with the perfect infinitive (i.e. with have and the past participle), must expresses only assumption [.]To express obligation or necessity in the past, had to or some other synonym must be used.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    @Cascabel, would you accept the following? "I can't get into the database. I'm sure I used the right username." "Did you enter a password?" "No" "You must be required to put in a password." And if that's acceptable, would replacing "be required to" with "have to" be acceptable? In my mind, it's quite natural. – Juhasz Sep 25 '19 at 16:02
  • Also see: english.stackexchange.com/questions/446403/… – Cascabel Sep 25 '19 at 16:26
  • 1
    @Cascabel I can't tell anymore because you keep removing your comments as you change your argument. You seem pretty sure that I'm wrong, but you are rephrasing your argument every response. I suggest you take some time to research this yourself and provide your own answer (or at least one solid argument) instead of shifting goalposts in the comments section. – JRodge01 Sep 25 '19 at 16:29
  • 1
    @Juhasz Spot on. In the sort of context you mention what is really meant is that ‘it must be the case that’ you have to enter a password. This is not an obligation. It’s just that IT must be the case that YOU have to put in a password (or the programme won’t load). – Tuffy Sep 25 '19 at 17:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.