There are a lot of differences between tenses in English that we need to focus on. You’ll want to get ahead of the game with tenses to ensure you’re on par with native speakers. This article will discuss “will have to” and “have to” and how they differ.
What Is The Difference Between “Will Have To” And “Have To”?
You should use “will have to” when talking about something that you will need to do in the future. “Will” is a future tense word expressing something that will happen later. You should use “have to” when talking about something that you must do in the present.
The definition of “have to,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “to need to or be forced to; must.”
The definition of “will,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary, is “used to talk about what is going to happen in the future, especially things that you are certain about or things that are planned.”
We use “have to” as an auxiliary verb, which means we’re not able to use it independently in the sentence. “Will” is a modal verb that refers to something happening in the future. We always need another verb present in the sentence to make “will have to” work.
Is “Will Have To” Or “Have To” Used The Most?
We’ve covered the basics related to the meanings, so now we should look at the usage of the two. We find that learning about the popularity of words and phrases is an excellent way to focus your learning on what’s most popular for natives to use.
According to this graph, “have to” is the most popular phrase. That’s because it’s more common to talk about something that we currently must do rather than something that we must do in the future.
Also, according to Google, “will have to” is mentioned 179,000 times on The New York Times website, while “have to” is mentioned 1,220,000 times.
As you can see from these results, “have to” is the winner (if it were a competition). We use it more commonly because we usually want to talk about things required of us in the present moment.
Simply adding “will” turns the phrase into a future tense phrase. “Will have to” implies that there’s something that we will have to do in the future, but we don’t have to do it right away. This sentence construct is not a common thing to come across in English, which is why it’s less popular.
Generally, if we know something needs doing right away, we’ll do it (or at least work towards it).
Can “Will Have To” And “Have To” Ever Be Used Interchangeably?
While the meanings are different based on tense, they aren’t all that out of line with each other. In fact, other than the inclusion of the word “will,” they both talk about things that “must” be done.
“Will have to” and “have to” are not interchangeable. We use “will have to” to talk about something that we’re planning on doing in the future. We use “have to” to talk about something that we must do now.
The key difference of tenses is what makes it impossible to use these phrases interchangeably. As nice as it would be, we simply can’t use them in the same way and be grammatically correct.
To demonstrate what we mean, have a look at these examples:
- I have to leave.
- I will have to leave.
“I have to leave” talks about the need for us to leave right away. There’s an urgency to it, and we must leave before we miss a deadline or a specific time where we’re expecting to go.
“I will have to leave” changes that urgency. All of a sudden, we’re saying that we will have to leave at some point in the future, but right now, we still have time to do whatever we were previously doing.
From these examples, it’s clear that the difference is too apparent to use them interchangeably. It wouldn’t work if you tried to say “I have to leave” to talk about a future event. Likewise, using “I will have to leave” to talk about a current requirement doesn’t work either.
Examples Of How To Use “Will Have To” In A Sentence
We can go even further with the examples to help you understand them. We have a feeling that after you’ve read through these next few sections, you’ll have a much better understanding of how these two phrases differ.
“Will have to” refers to the future requirement to do something. It is still an auxiliary verb, so you must include another verb after “to.”
- I will have to pay more attention next time.
- I will have to reimburse you for the bill!
- You will have to come and visit when you’re next in town.
- They will have to make sure not to be late again.
- She will have to reassure him before the evening is out.
- We will have to leave soon.
- You will have to return one day.
We highlighted all the verbs used directly after the phrase “will have to.” This is important because “will have to” is an auxiliary verb phrase, meaning a secondary verb is needed to accompany it.
Without another verb, we can’t make a coherent sentence.
There are a few examples where you might not include a verb, as follows:
- I can’t go there.
- You will have to one day.
We follow “will have to” with “one,” a noun and not a verb. In this case, the verb “go” from the previous sentence is implied in the meaning after “will have to,” which is the only time it ever works not to include another verb.
Examples Of How To Use “Have To” In A Sentence
We’ll also check out how “have to” works. We follow the same auxiliary verb rules as above (and we can omit the verb only to imply it from the previous sentence).
“Have to” refers to a current requirement, and there is a sense of urgency about it, and we usually must do the thing right away.
- I have to go now, sorry.
- You have to see the principal right away.
- They have to leave.
- We have to ensure him that it’ll be okay.
- She has to return tomorrow.
- I have to be on my best behavior.
- You have to come.
Sometimes, we’ll see “have to” written as “has to.” This is only the case when we’re writing with the third-person singular pronouns “he,” “she,” or “it.” Other than the different pronouns and spelling, “has to” and “have to” are identical.
“Will Have To” And “Have To” – Synonyms
If you’re struggling to understand the tense differences between the phrases, we’ve got you covered. Using synonyms or alternatives is a great way to familiarize yourself with new words.
- (Will be) obliged to
- (Will be) required to
- (Will) need to
- Got to
- (Will be) compelled to
- (Will) want to
We included “will” in the cases where it applies to the phrase. If “will” isn’t written next to the synonym, it means you can use them in both the present and future tenses depending on the rest of the context of the sentence you use.
What Is The Difference Between “Will Have To” And “Would Have To”?
“Will have to” refers to something that you must do at some point in the future. “Will” implies that it is a must. “Would have to” is usually related to an outcome of something we have to do. If something comes up that means we don’t have to do it, we say “would have to.”
To explain what we mean, look at the following:
- I will have to go back there soon.
- I would have to go back there soon if they needed me again.
“Will have to” implies we intend to go back. “Would have to” means we’re only going back if something else happens (they needed you again).
What Is The Difference Between “Have Got To” And “Have To”?
“Have got to” means that we have to do something we already know about. It’s the present perfect tense, meaning something happened in the past that we still need to act on in the future.
Is It Ever Correct To Use “Have Had To”?
“Have had to” is correct to use when you’re talking about something that you’ve previously been required to do. It’s the past perfect tense, meaning we had to do it but have also completed the task.
- I have had to clean the toilets before.
When Should I Use “Has To” Or “Have To”?
We use “has to” when working with the third-person singular pronouns “he,” “she,” or “it.” We use “have to” in any other case, with the pronouns “I,” “you,” “we,” and “they.” “Have to” also works in the plural form (i.e., “these things have to change”).
Is It “Have To” Or “Have Too”?
“Have to” is the correct spelling. “To” tells us that something is required. “Too” is used to compare something or emphasize it, which is incorrect here.
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.