learn me the english english english grammar online passive voice modal verbs concepts of verb tense syntax world

Great Secrets to English Grammar: Part 7: Lack of Need or Obligation – Learn Me The English

Part G: Lack of Need or Obligation

!!! do not confuse do not have to and must not.

  • To express lack of need or obligation, we use do not have to. This means there is a choice as to whether the person does the action or not.  


  • Present form

You do not have to give a donation.
You do not have to look at every exhibit.

  • Past form

I did not have to go to the ruins to learn their story.
I did not have to complete my assignment yesterday. The teacher extended the deadline.

In this next piece, poet Jenny Joseph writes about the things she is going to do differently when she becomes an old woman.  As you read it, imagine all the things she won’t need nor be obliged to do anymore.


By Jenny Joseph

With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Exercise 1. You should be able to talk about the rules you can break when you get older.  

What things will you do that you feel you cannot do now?
Which rules will you throw out the window and what rights will you allow yourself?

For example..

When I am an old man, I shall always sit in a seat on the bus.
Right now, I either stand or give my seat to the elderly or pregnant.
When I am an old man, I shall use all of the discounts that elderly people get.
I will have less money so anything that is provided free or discounted, I will take full advantage of.
When I am an old man, I shall demand faster service at banks and other places where I would have to stand in line.
I don’t mind waiting now, but when I am older, my body will not be as strong…



Review your knowledge: