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Thread: have to, got to, must; will, gonna

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    Почтенный гражданин pushvv's Avatar
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    have to, got to, must; will, gonna

    What is the difference between
    1."I will" and "I'm going to ...";
    2. "I must", "I have to" and "I got to"?

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    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pushvv View Post
    What is the difference between
    1."I will" and "I'm going to ...";
    2. "I must", "I have to" and "I got to"?
    1. In some cases, they're interchangeable. (That is, "going to" functions only as a marker of the "simple future" tense, and doesn't add other shades of meaning.) To the extent that there's a difference, "will" may refer to a "later future", while "going to" describes something happening very soon:

    "I'm going to make some sandwiches right now. Do you want one?"
    "I will make dinner Thursday night, darling, since I know you have a meeting with your club." -- said the husband to his wife.
    "I'm going to make pancakes for breakfast tomorrow, and then I'll make omelets on Saturday morning."

    (In the first sentence, "will" would sound awkward in conjunction with "right now". In the second sentence, "going to" is possible, but "will" sounds slightly better, IMHO. In the third sentence, the near future and a more distant future are contrasted.)

    But in other contexts, there's really no difference -- both simply mark the future tense:

    "I'm going to be working on a important project next month."
    "I will be working on an important project next month."

    2. "I must" sounds slightly more formal than "I have to" -- in other words, "must" is less common in speech than in writing. But they mean the same thing.

    Regarding "I got to," it's necessary to distinguish between "I've got to" and "I got to" -- although in rapid speech, it may be difficult to hear the 've in "I've got to", so that the phrase sounds identical to "I got to".

    But the difference between "I got to" and "I've got to" is that the first one is past tense and means "I had the opportunity to do something pleasant," while the second one is present tense and equivalent with "I have to" -- implying "I can't avoid doing something unpleasant," like Russian мне приходится.

    So if there's a blizzard, the father will be saying (in the present tense):

    1. "Dammit, look at all this snow I've got to shovel." or
    2. "Dammit, look at all this snow I have to shovel." or
    3. "Dammit, look at all this snow I must shovel."

    (These three mean the same thing, but #3 sounds rather unnatural in everyday colloquial speech or in informal writing. Save "must" for formal political rhetoric or poetry.)

    But a week later, the children will be saying (in the past tense):

    "Last week we got to stay home from school for three days because of the snow -- hooray, it was so much fun!"

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