On “Have To” II

Have to” is a grammatically awkward pairing in English and other languages (Spanish tener que). It’s called a “quasimodal,” whatever that means. Lately, whenever I think of “have to,” I change it to how – I think – it was originally used, “have an obligation to”. That is what it means, after all, so why not? Now, when I hear, “You have to do this for me,” or something like it, I translate it to, “You have an obligation to do this for me.” This then forces me to think critically about exactly what obligations I have toward whoever’s making the claim. Clearer thinking usually results, which makes it much easier to decide on a course of action going forward. You just have to give it a try sometime! And that’s today’s two cents.


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Founder and editor of Everything-Voluntary.com and UnschoolingDads.com, Skyler is a husband and unschooling father of three beautiful children. His writings include the column series “One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” and “One Improved Unit,” and blog series “Two Cents“. Skyler also wrote the books No Hitting! and Toward a Free Society, and edited the books Everything Voluntary and Unschooling Dads. You can hear Skyler chatting away on his podcasts, Everything Voluntary and Thinking & Doing.