Difference Between Have To and Has To

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: February 24, 2023


Difference Between Have To and Has To Difference Between Have To and Has To

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

The modal verbs "have to" and "has to" both express obligation or necessity. The primary distinction lies in their subject-verb agreement.

  • You must use "have to" with plural subjects (I/we/you/they) and the pronoun "you" (both singular and plural). For instance, "I must visit the dentist" or "They must prepare for their exams."
  • "Has to" is used with singular subjects and nouns. For instance, "She must complete her homework" or "The cat requires a walk."

In other words, "have to" is used when the subject is not third-person singular, whereas "has to" is used when the subject is third-person singular.


Yet another dilemma that the English language throws us in, the grammar debate is one of the million other debates that one can always get confused about, regardless of age and education. While other topics such as appropriate contextual usage of synonyms, active voice to passive voice transitions, spellings through different cultures, punctuations, and many similar ones have always been major topics of debate, it is always grammar that tops the charts, be it potential for mistakes or confusions.

Exceptions exist through almost every rule that defines the language, especially grammar. Most of these rules describe how a certain part of a sentence, such as a noun, verb, adverb, conjunctions, prepositions, etc., must be used appropriately while abiding by any pre-written formula. These formulas generally pertain to the tense of the verb used and the number of subjects involved.

Boiling down to the grammar debates, we will pick one of the most discussed debates that have always confused students, not to mention, proving to be a huge weapon of posing higher confusion while preparing difficult questions. ‘Have to’ and ‘has to’ are two terms that are both modal auxiliary verbs. Both these terms are conjugations of the verb ‘to have’ and point to the need or urgency to fulfill a task, chore, or responsibility. However, these terms have their own set of differences. While one can easily converse accurately, written formats of the same can prove to be tricky and confusing. Thus, we have broken down the differences between each term that we will now explore!

'Have to' vs. 'Has to'

The main difference between 'Have to'' and 'Has to' lies in the context of its utility. 'Have to' is used in certain cases for both singular and plural nouns whereas 'Has to' is used only for cases with singular nouns. 'Have to' is not limited to just first person or second person and primarily depends on the singular or plural context whereas the usage of 'Has to' is limited to only third-person nouns and pronouns.

Difference Between 'Have to' and 'Has to' in Tabular Form

Table: 'Have to' vs. 'Has to'
Parameters of Comparison
'Have to'
'Has to'
Count basis
'Have to' is used for singular i.e., ‘I’ and mostly plural nouns i.e., we, they
'Has to' is used only when singular nouns or pronouns are involved.
Person basis
'Have to' is not restricted to any one category and is used for all three person bases.
'Has to' is restricted to be used only when second-person pronouns are involved.
I, you, we, they
She, he, it
When ‘have to’ is used in a sentence, it helps identify the number of subjects in the context is either the speaker, themselves, the listener, or multiple people.
When ‘has to’ is used in a sentence, it helps the listener identify that the number of subjects involved in that certain context is singular.
Tense and tone
‘Have to’ can be used for several tones that can describe things and tasks that need to be completed in an immediate sense or the near future or the possibility of a certain task being bestowed.
‘Has to’ does not have any other distinct tones than to just denote the necessity of performing a task. It can only be used to denote such obligation.
Exception of will
When ‘will’ is involved, 'Have to' can be employed for singular third-person pronouns too.
‘Will’ cannot be used in the company of 'Has to'.
Example statement
I have to get my driving license on Thursday.
She has to lock the doors before leaving.

What is 'Have to'?

‘Have to’ is a modal auxiliary verb that is used to depict a strong need or urgency to complete a task, chore, or responsibility. ‘Have to’ is an extension of the verb ‘have’ or ‘to have’ and thus does not mean ‘possess’ or ‘hold’. Unlike other conjugations, ‘have to’ can be quite tricky to use when given to choose between it and ‘has to’. So where exactly can ‘have to’ be used to make an accurate statement?

Where do we use it?

While ‘have to’ has a wider window for usage, this eventually means there’s a higher potential for mistakes and interchange between ‘has to’. Given below are a few guidelines where ‘have to’ can be used:

  • When the subject or the object is represented with plural nouns or pronouns.

 Eg:- Both Krishna and Sudha have to go to the supermarket.

  • When the singular and plural first-person pronouns are used i.e., I, we

Eg:- I have to get my hair done before the party starts.

We have to reach the venue by noon.

  • When second-person pronouns are used i.e., you

Eg:- You have to share your lunch with him for the next week.

  • When plural third-person pronouns are used i.e., they

Eg:- After the function, they have to clean up the hall.

  • When the term ‘will’ accompanies the auxiliary verb, third-person pronouns that usually involve the usage of ‘has to’, need to use the auxiliary verb ‘have to’ instead.

Eg:- Whatever you are trying to say, it will have to wait until the end of the event.

He cannot slog anymore, it will have to get repaired someday.

From the above rules and examples, it is easy to infer that ‘have to’ can be used easily when referring to works or duties that need to be completed in near future. However, when the auxiliary verb is to be used in a compulsion form, where the emphasis is on the surety of finishing the task rather than the time, things can get a bit confusing. Because when used in the context of compulsion, most of these sentences involve ‘will’.

Exception of ‘Will’:-

We have previously mentioned that singular third-person pronouns employ the usage of ‘has to’. However, when the sentence demands the inclusion of the term ‘will’, second-person pronouns will need to use ‘have to’ instead. To explain this in a better way, we shall use an example in both cases of third-person pronouns: one with ‘has to’ and one with ‘have to’

Eg1:- She has to find other sources by Wednesday.

Eg2:- She will have to do all the crowd control by herself.

Here, both sentences involve the usage of the third-person pronoun ‘she’. But the inclusion of ‘will’ changes the urgency of the statement as well as the auxiliary verb.

The Many Shades of ‘Have To’:-

As described previously, ‘have to’ can be used to imply many tones depending upon the context. Let us look at a few examples to really understand what we are trying to explain:

  • It can be used to denote tasks that require action.

Eg:- I’m afraid I have to leave now

  • It is used to state rules or laws.

Eg:-  All the customers have to maintain a queue.

  • It can be used to express desires that aren't necessarily compulsory.

Eg:- You have to come to visit us at our new home!

  • It can also be used in various phrases to exclaim anger or provide emphasis.

Eg1:- Why does it have to be a holiday today?!

Eg2:- I have to admit it, your performance was outstanding!

What is 'Has to'?

‘Has to’, similar to its comparison counterpart, is also a modal auxiliary verb that is a conjugation of the verb ‘to have’. It too represents the need or requirement to finish a certain task or chore. So where exactly does the difference come in?

Unlike ‘Have to’, ‘has to’ needs to be used only for certain cases and has a narrower window for usage.  It also has specific situations and categories where the term can be used, making it much, much easier to use than its counterpart. Thus, there is lesser potential for mistakes and statements can be made more accurately. Let’s explore what these definite situations are.

Where is it used?

  • It is used in the case of singular nouns or pronouns.

Eg1:- John has to submit the presentation by 4 pm today.

Eg2:- The intern has to make the necessary changes to the website whenever asked.

  • It is used in the case of singular third-person pronouns such as he, she, it

Eg1:- Due to higher scrutiny, he has to make the project as impeccable as possible.

Eg2:- She has to clear any doubts or queries that will be posted after the ethics seminar in the office.

Eg3:- Once the application is downloaded, it has to ask the user for certain permissions regarding access to media, contacts, camera, etc.

The dilemma of ‘will’:-

Unlike the auxiliary verb ‘have to’, the term ‘has to’ does not have any confusion or exceptions regarding the case of involvement of ‘will. This is because ‘will’ cannot be accompanied by ‘has to’ consecutively in a sentence. This wouldn't make it accurate. Thus, there would exist no case where ’will’ is used in this context, posing no dilemma in the first place.

You can observe that ‘has to’ has much lesser confusion, proving to be much easier and simpler to understand.

Main Differences Between 'Have to' and 'Has to' in Points

  • The terms 'Has to' and 'Have to' can be differentiated on the bases of count distinction. This means when the nouns used to represent the subject or the object in a sentence are plural, they are always represented by 'Have to'. Thus, all the plural nouns and the singular pronoun 'I' involve the usage of 'Have to' whereas the usage of 'Has to' is restricted to the singular nouns and pronouns.
  • Differentiating the usage of 'Has to' and 'Have to' based on the person can be a bit tricky. 'Have to' is not limited to any one type and is used for all three person-based categories. On the other hand, 'Has to' is used only for second-person pronouns and not for any other categories.
  • A few examples of pronouns that use 'Have to' are I, you, we, they. A few examples of pronouns that employ the usage of 'Has to' are she, he, it.
  • The impact of the terms 'have to' and 'has to' also defines why such distinctions between the employability of both these terms exist. When the term 'have to' is used in a sentence, it denotes that the subject referred to in that particular context is either the listener, the speaker themselves, or multiple groups of people. On the other hand, when 'has to' is used in a sentence, it is inferred that the number of subjects involved in that certain context is just a single person.
  • Clearly, both the terms depict the same obligation to finish a task. However, the term 'have to' can have more meanings than just depicting a sense of mandate. 'Have to' can be used to accompany verbs that refer to tasks that need to be taken care of in an immediate sense or near future. It can also be used with other common modal verbs to describe chores that one might be tasked with in the future. In contrast to this, 'Has to' does not have the versatility of 'have to'. It can only be used for obligations of such tasks and responsibilities.
  • As previously mentioned, second-person pronouns employ the usage of 'Has to'. however when we use the term 'will', an exception arises. second-person pronouns need to use 'Have to' instead of 'Has to' when ‘will’ is involved. An example of such a case is "she will have to get it done herself". On the other hand, 'will' cannot be used along with 'Has to' and thus the case never arises.
  • An example where 'Have to' is used: we have to finish this rehearsal today. An example where 'Has to' is used: it has to be downloaded in a PDF format.


We have seen that ‘have to’ has a higher window and a broader range of usage whereas ‘has to’ has a definite set of rules that are more specific with a lesser number of exceptions. We can simplify the discussion by summarizing that ‘have to’ is used when ‘I’ and plural nouns or pronouns are involved whereas ‘has to’ is used when singular nouns or pronouns are involved. We hope that through this article, we have cleared any remnant confusion about the usage concerning context, person-basis, count-basis, etc. Keep learning!




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"Difference Between Have To and Has To." Diffzy.com, 2023. Mon. 27 Mar. 2023. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-have-to-and-has-to-218>.

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