I study translating and interpreting. In one of our language lessons
my teacher read a sentence from the (American) magazine ĎTimeí:
'The blaze......had to have been very strongÖ' and said that
was incorrect as it should have been must have been' instead.
However, all the Americans I know told me this construction sounded
perfectly natural to them.
is the case that the grammar of American English at times is slightly
different from the grammar of British English, but where there are
differences, most grammar reference books point out any alternative
versions. For example, they might list examples of some of the past
tense differences as follows:
woke her with a kiss.
waked her with a kiss.
dived into the water.
dove into the water.
quitted the job after five days.
quit the job after five days.
burnt all her letters.
burned all her letters.
priest wetted the babyís head.
priest wet the babyís head.
cellar smelt of rotting apples.
The cellar smelled of rotting apples.
I have checked with all the grammar reference books that I have
to hand and in none of them is had to have been listed as
an alternative to must have been. It may have been used for
had to indicates the past tense form of must when
must = obligation. Study the following:
'Youíll have to get up at five oí clock if you want
to be in Birmingham by seven.'
'I must remember to renew my car insurance at the end
of the month.'
'You mustnít park your car on the double yellow lines
on the roads in Britain.'
'She had to pay a fine of £60 when she was caught speeding
on the motorway.'
that if we use wonít/donít/didnít have to as the negative of
must, then we are expressing the absence of obligation or necessity
and in this respect it is similar in use to neednít or donít/didnít
need to. Compare the following:
'You wonít ever have to wear braces around your
teeth again.' ( You neednít ever wear braces around your teeth
'You donít have to come, if you donít want to.' (You
donít need to come.)
'I didnít have to attend the January meeting, so I went
to see Jane instead.' (I didnít need to attend the January meeting,
so I went to see Jane instead.)
'The following month, I had to present a paper, so my
attendance was essential.
usage of must is quite different. As in the Time article,
we are registering that we are not absolutely sure about something,
but are guessing or assuming that it has happened, will happen or
is the case. In this sense, must have is the past tense form of
must. Study the following:
'It must beat least five weeks since we last
'You must be Helen. My mother has told me so much about
'We must have taken the wrong turning. We should be
there by now.'
'They must have missed their train. Otherwise they would
be here by now.'
that the negative of must be or must have is canít
be or canít/couldnít have been.
again, we are making an assumption about something. Study the following:
'She canít be very happy with her husband away on that
oil rig all the time.'
'It canít be lunch time already. That clock must be
'It couldnít have been Charlie who answered the phone
because heís in hospital.'
'I canít findFifi anywhere. She canít have got
out through the window. The opening is too small.