You may have come across the phrases “it is a must,” or “it is must” while reading or in your everyday interactions with others and have wondered if they mean the same thing or are correct grammatically. Here you will learn more about these two expressions.
Is It “It Is Must” Or “It Is A Must”?
The phrase “it is a must” is an acceptable expression to use and is grammatically correct. It means that something is extremely important or requires proper attention. However, the phrase “it is must” is incorrect in terms of both grammar and syntax and should not be used.
By definition the word “must” can be used as a helping (modal) verb or a noun. When used as a noun it implies that something is a complete necessity and should not be missed. In the phrase “it is a must,” the word “must” is used as a noun.
What Does “It Is A Must” Mean?
When you use the phrase “it is a must,” you say that the object or thing to which you are referring should not be overlooked. In these cases, “must” is a noun because it is not helping to describe an action but referring to something tangible instead.
Here are some example sentences to help you see this formation:
- It is a must that we arrive there before closing time, as I need to make the purchase tonight.
- When riding a motorcycle it is a must to have a good helmet for proper safety.
- It is a must that you keep up with the assigned reading for the class or you will fall behind quickly.
Notice how in these sentences, “must” follows the word “a,” which is an indefinite article that signifies a noun is about to appear.
What Does “It Is Must” Mean?
The phrase “it is must” does not follow accepted grammatical rules and should be avoided in proper English. When used in this syntax, “must” would be acting as an “adjective” which is not technically possible and therefore, the sentence does not easily make sense.
Therefore, you should avoid using this phrase in conventional English grammar and stick with using “it is a must” or choose a different phrase completely, such as “Must I?” or “it is necessary.”
If it is used at all, it is only in the context of an informal regional dialect or expression in a particular area of the world.
Look at these examples:
- Incorrect: It is must that I clean my room every Saturday.
- Correct: It is a must that I clean my room every Saturday.
- Incorrect: It is must that you try that new Italian restaurant. It is delicious!
- Correct: You must try that new Italian restaurant. It is delicious!
- Incorrect: It is must that you make an appointment before you arrive.
- Correct: It is necessary that you make an appointment before you arrive.
Is “It Is Must” Or “It Is A Must” Used The Most?
Overall in the English language, “it is a must” is the phrase that is used the most. However, when you look at British English, “it is must” appears rather consistently from 1800 throughout today, suggesting that it might have casual usage in some form in the British English dialect.
The Google Ngram Viewer here shows the trending of these two phrases for the English language as a whole. You can see that the phrase “it is a must” hardly appeared in use at all until about the year 1940, when it started to rise in popularity. “It is must” shows a rather steady, although low, pattern of usage throughout history.
Is “It Is Must” Or “It Is A Must” Used Differently In American English And British English?
If you analyze the usage of “it is a must” and “it is must” between American English and British English, you will find that the phrase “it is must,” is used much more frequently in British English, suggesting that it may be a colloquialism found in the British English dialect.
A look at the Google Ngram Viewer showing the usage of the two phrases in American English reveals that once the expression “it is a must” started to increase in usage around the year 1940, it remained steady as the preferred option over “it is must.”
However, when you look at the Google Ngram Viewer for British English, “it is must” always had a higher overall usage from 1800 until today. Even when “it is a must” began to spike in popularity, starting around the year 1950, it wasn’t until about 1952 when it finally surpassed the usage of “it is must.”
The analysis of these two graphs backs up the suggestion that the phrase “it is must,” although incorrect by grammatical standards, may be accepted in some form in British English.
“It Is A Must” And “It Is Must” – Synonyms
There are many other options that you can use to convey the same message that you find with the phrases “it is a must” and “it is must.” Here are some synonyms that you can try for more variety in your sentences.
- Not to be missed
When you look at each of these synonyms in a sentence, you can see how they could easily be replaced by the phrase “it is a must.”
- It is necessary that you attend the safety briefing before you are allowed to race on the track.
- It is essential to eat a lot of vegetables if you want to maintain a healthy diet.
- It is fundamental that you take Basic Calculus before you can move on to the advanced course.
- If you are going to run in a marathon, it is imperative to have the proper running shoes.
- Before you consider buying a house of your own, it is requisite that you save up enough money for a down payment.
- It is an obligation to send a gift or card of some sort if you are invited to a wedding but can’t attend.
- That movie is not to be missed-it was exceptional!
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.