Difference Between Have To and Had To

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Have To and Had To

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"Have to" vs. "Had to" - Quick Difference

"Have to" and "had to" are both used to express obligation or necessity, but their tense has a crucial difference.

"Have to" is present tense and expresses a current obligation or necessity. 

  • For e.g., "I have to go to the office today" means that you currently need to go to the office today.

"Had to" is past tense and is used to express an obligation or necessity that existed in the past. 

  • For e.g., "I had to work late last night" means that you were obliged to work late yesterday.

So the main difference between "have to" and "had to" is the tense they are used in - present tense vs. past tense.


One of the most crucial aspects of your language studies in English grammar. Regrettably, it can also be one of the most difficult and intricate.

I'll show you why English grammar is important in a variety of scenarios, from casual discussions to professional communication, in this essay.

I'll also show you how to learn grammar more effectively by focusing on the things that matter most to you—along with three critical English grammar principles you should never neglect.

The key to speaking English fluently and confidently is to use proper grammar. Knowing your grammar will help you avoid making mistakes that make native speakers think your English is weird.

However, there are several instances where English grammar is particularly crucial. If you're going for a job interview in an English-speaking country, for example, the quality of your spoken and written English will be important to the company. In fact, according to a recent survey of UK employment recruiters, the most common reason they dislike an application is poor spelling and language.

Correct grammar demonstrates not only your command of the English language but also your diligence and attention to detail.

Grammar is the study of the meanings of sentences. That is why it is beneficial. The more we know about grammar, the better we will be able to understand the meaning communicated by words and enhance our capacity to articulate and respond to that meaning..."

Language studies is an aspect of general education. To understand ourselves, we study the complicated workings of the human body; the same reason should entice us to study the magnificent intricacy of human language..."

"If you understand the nature of language, you'll be able to recognize the source of your linguistic prejudices and perhaps moderate them; you'll also be able to assess linguistic issues of public concern more clearly, such as concerns about the language's state or what to do about immigrant teaching." Studying the English language has a more clear practical application: it can assist you in more efficiently using the language."

"The structural foundation of our ability to communicate ourselves is grammar. The more we understand how it works, the better we can keep track of the meaning and effectiveness of the language we and others use. It can aid in the development of precision, the detection of ambiguity, and the utilization of the richness of expression accessible in English.

English is a relatively simple language to learn. It is recommended that you be faultless in your grammar to have a firm grasp of any language. As a result, each language has its syntax and norms. Verbs, nouns, pronouns, tenses, modals, synonyms, antonyms, homophones, and many more terms are found in English grammar. The terms "Have to" and "Had to" are both used in models and have a slight difference in meaning. In English, the terms "Have to" and "Had to" have different meanings. The most important distinction between have and had is that they are both different forms of the verb 'to have.' Had is the past form, while have is the present form. In the present perfect tense, the auxiliary verb have is employed.

In the past perfect tense, on the other hand, the auxiliary verb had is employed.

While pursuing their education, every student is required to prepare a thesis, dissertations, or academic papers. These papers show the student's degree of understanding and whether or not he or she has grasped the subject completely. While these papers may appear to be a collection of words and figures, they are the culmination of the student's knowledge gained over years of study and investigation. As a result, these papers must be presented correctly, with good sentence structure.

Due to their poor quality, grammatical errors are likely to destroy thesis and dissertations. Teachers and professors should encourage students, particularly those who do not speak English as a first language, to use dictionaries and thesaurus to guarantee that their work is accurate.

On the one hand, good grammar instills positivity in you, which boosts your confidence to some level, whereas bad grammar creates a negative loop.

People must trust you because of your credibility, which is built by good grammar because it rotates the judging factor of people against you in 360 degrees. For example, if you are reading a newspaper and it contains errors, your basic attitude is that you will doubt the news that they are delivering.

Have to vs. Had to

The major distinction between have to and had to is that "have to" refers to any duty or compulsion statement, whereas "had to" refers to any statement's necessity. The first phrase refers to the present and future tenses, whereas the second refers to the past tenses.

It is believed that have to is a transitive verb. It's used to describe any kind of compulsion or responsibility placed on a person. Consider the following statement: You have one hour to complete the culinary work. The person is said to be compelled to complete the work by a set deadline in this statement.

Had to is said to be a semi-modal verb. And it is used to make any necessary comment through a statement. Because ‘had to” is the past form of “have to’ therefore it is only used when any task is performed in the past. For example- I had to complete my work by 10 A.M. The subject has already completed his work in the past.

We use HAVE TO to talk about both internal and external obligations in the PAST or the FUTURE. For example:-

  • What did the doctor say?’ ’I have to take these pills for a month and do exercise every morning.’
  • I have to go and see my son’s teacher. She’s sent me a note.

“Had to” is in the past tense and it is something you were obliged to do and had already done, For Example:-

  • She had a purse.
  • I had an apple.
  • They had a big fight.

In the above examples, we can see that had is used with both singular and plural nouns and pronouns.

Difference Between "have to" and "had to" in Tabular Form

Parameters of comparison Have to Had to
Usage It is used to convey any obligation or force. It's utilized to indicate any kind of need.
Example I have to finish my job on time. As she failed the exam, she had to reappear in the exam.
Tense Present or Future Past
Used With It is used with all the plural subjects along with I, They, You, We. It is used with all the subjects but in the past tense.
Actions The actions have been completed just now. The actions that have been completed in the past.
Affirmative Sentence I have to go the bed early. She has to wake up early tomorrow.

What is a "Have to"?

"Have to" is a transitive verb that is used to describe any scenario that is obligatory. The term primarily refers to someone else's pressure to finish a task by a specific deadline. Take, for example, the following statement —

We'll have to go to school the next day.

The person is forced or compelled to accomplish the assignment in the case above. In both the Present and Future Tense, the term "have to" is employed. Subject + Modal Verb + Have to is the structure for forming a sentence with the modal verb. Affirmative, Negative, and Interrogative are the three ways to use the phrase.

Here are a few examples of this.

Affirmative – I have to wake up at 5 A.M.

Negative – I do not have to wake up at 5 A.M.

Interrogative – Do I have to wake up at 5 A.M.

All of the subjects in their plural forms, as well as I, They, You, and We, can be used with the word "have to." It represents work that is ongoing or has recently been completed.

Only plural nouns or pronouns are used with having. Take a look at the two sentences below.

I've come to visit you.

You gave me a book the other day.

You'll see that the auxiliary verb have is employed in the present perfect tense in both sentences. Furthermore, it can be used in either the first or second person. It's crucial to understand that the auxiliary verb have can't be used in the third person. With the verb had, the third person is used.

It's worth noting that the verb have is also used in the construction of questions like 'have you ever been to London?' The verb had is utilized in the creation of a question in this phrase.

What is "Had to"?

The expression "had to" is regarded as a semi-model verb, and it is mostly employed to describe any required effort in any statement made by the subject. The statement is designed to provide information on previous work done by the subject. Take, for example, the following statement —

  • She had to be strong for her family after her mother died.
  • It was inevitable that the job would be completed at some point.

As observed in the preceding example, the labor performed by the subject in the sentence is due to the necessity of time. The word "had to," which is the second and third form of the verb, is used in the past tense. The elements that make up a sentence

The term "have to" can be employed in three different ways: affirmative, negative, and interrogative, and the examples given below are related to the examples given in the "Have to" section for easy comprehension. For negative and interrogative sentences, the term "had to" is converted in the first form.

  • Affirmative – I had to wake up early at 6 A.M.
  • Negative – I did not have to wake up early at 6 A.M.
  • Interrogative – Did I have to wake up early at 6 A.M.

Main Differences Between "Have to" and "Had to" in Points

  • "Have to" is used to express any obligation or coercion, whereas "had to" is used to convey any necessity.
  • "Have to" is used in the present and future tenses, but "Had to" is used in the past.
  • The word "have to" is used for actions that have just been done or are in continuous form, whereas the verb "had to" is used for actions that have been completed in the past.
  • "Have to" is used in the plural form with all subjects except You, We, I, and They, but "Had to" is used in the past tense with all subjects. 
  • I have to finish my assignments, as an example. Had to, on the other hand, was on vacation in Goa.
  • The present form of the verb 'to have is have, whereas the past form is had.
  • In the present perfect tense, the auxiliary verb have is employed.
  • In the past perfect tense, on the other hand, the auxiliary word had is employed.
  • Only plural nouns and pronouns are used with have.
  • Had is used with nouns and pronouns in both singular and plural forms.


The models are said to be English Grammar's irregular verbs. Models are verbs that emphasize the main verb's function. Must, should, would, might, will, and may are examples of modal verbs. Any advice, likelihood, potential, compulsion, necessity, or capacity is expressed using the models.

The phrases listed above are transitive or model verbs that express duties, coercion, and necessity. The pronouns I, We, You, and They are used with the first word "Have to," while the pronouns I, She, He, It, We, They, and You are used with the second term "Had to." The term one refers to work that has been completed or is ongoing in the present and future tense, whereas the term two refers to work that has not yet been completed.



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"Difference Between Have To and Had To." Diffzy.com, 2024. Fri. 23 Feb. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-have-to-and-had-to-211>.

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