General Writing and Grammar Help/Another grammar question


Dear Jonathan,

Thank you very much for your prompt reply!

As grammar tells, “must” should be changed to “had to” in past tense.

For example:
You had to do it three weeks ago.

We can not write:
You must do it three weeks ago.

Is this necessarily true?

Please tell me. Thanks!

Best Wishes,


Hi Walden,

No, this is not necessarily true. "Must" is a present-tense word, not a past-tense one. Interestingly enough, "must" doesn't have a past-tense version, so you have to change the verb somewhat. Below are some examples of "must" as a present-tense verb.

You must clean your room.
You must file the report.
You must go to work.

"Had to" would be correct for past-tense usage.
You had to clean your room.
You had to file the report.
You had to go to work.

Future tense would be "will have to". If you left it as just "have to" then it would be present-tense also.
You will have to clean your room.
You will have to file the report.
You will have to go to work.

I hope that makes sense.

Kind Regards,

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Johnathan Clayborn


I can answer a broad range of questions about both academic and creative writing. I can answer questions about APA format, research and references, essay structure and more. I am particularly helpful in the areas of character development, storyline development, etc. and I can provide authors with an array of tools to help them organize their work.


I minored in English for my Bachelor's degree. I have also written several books and I run a small publishing company (before you ask, we're not accepting submissions at this time). I have written both fiction and non-fiction books and I have been published in newspapers and written articles for major internet websites.

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