13.2. Grammar. Verbs for necessity and obligation.


What are these modal verbs for obligation that the students keep using? Discuss the grammar of the following: Got to. Need to. What are their positive, negative and interrogative forms? What are the contracted forms?


AHMET: We are going to a jumble sale. The police, the army, the London Transport Authorities, the KGB, and just about everybody in the world, is chasing after us. We have got to escape. We’ve got to get Ali Fred back home to his country without anybody noticing. We need to go and buy some typical English clothes to disguise ourselves.


ANJA: We’ve also got to go somewhere where no one will recognise us. We can’t possibly go to a shopping centre now. We needn’t stay in doors all day hiding. There are so many people in London that it will be very difficult to find us! ‘Have go to’ is the same as ‘have to’ and therefore has the same meaning of ‘must’. It is perhaps more common in speech. It represents one or two difficulties: First, in speech it is almost always contracted: Hey birdbrain! I’ve got to get past you. You’ve got to stand on the right-hand side of the escalator.  It has a negative form which is: You haven’t got to speak to me like that! I’m not so stupid.’ This is the same meaning as ‘don’t have to’, and means that it is optional and not obligatory. The interrogative form would logically be ‘Have you got to…?’


Remember that ‘need to’ has two forms in the negative and interrogative. What are they? ‘Need’ talks about necessity and is not quite as strong and emphatic as ‘have got to’. It has two forms with almost exactly the same meaning. One functions like a modal verb. The other functions like a regular verb, and are both conjugated accordingly. For example, as a modal you would say, ‘You needn’t have broken my nose, just because I stood in your way!’ (notice the pattern needn’t + have + past participle ); or as a regular verb: ‘You didn’t need to break my nose, just because I stood in your way!’ What were the other forms of modal verbs that express obligation that we studied in chapter five? How do these structures compare to those? Which are the strongest? These were ‘must’ ‘have to’ and ‘mustn’t’, all of which are strong obligation or prohibition. Then there was ‘don’t have to’ which, as explained above, means ‘no obligation’.