Meaning of MUST in English


Frequency: The word is one of the 700 most common words in English.


You use ~ to indicate that you think it is very important or necessary for something to happen. You use ~ not or ~n’t to indicate that you think it is very important or necessary for something not to happen.

What you wear should be stylish and clean, and ~ definitely fit well...

The doctor ~ not allow the patient to be put at risk...



You use ~ to indicate that it is necessary for something to happen, usually because of a rule or law.

Candidates ~ satisfy the general conditions for admission...

Equipment ~ be supervised if children are in the house.



You use ~ to indicate that you are fairly sure that something is the case.

At 29 Russell ~ be one of the youngest ever Wembley referees...

I’m sure he ~ feel he has lost a close family friend, because I know I do...

I ~ have been a bore.



You use ~, or ~ have with a past participle, to indicate that you believe that something is the case, because of the available evidence.

‘You ~ be Emma,’ said the visitor...

Miss Holloway had a weak heart. She ~ have had a heart attack...



If you say that one thing ~ have happened in order for something else to happen, you mean that it is necessary for the first thing to have happened before the second thing can happen.

In order to take that job, you ~ have left another job...



You use ~ to express your intention to do something.

I ~ be getting back...

I ~ telephone my parents...

He told the Prime Minister that he felt he ~ now leave.



You use ~ to make suggestions or invitations very forcefully.

You ~ see a doctor, Frederick...

You ~ see the painting Paul has given me as a wedding present...



You use ~ in remarks and comments where you are expressing sympathy.

This ~ be a very difficult job for you...



You use ~ in conversation in expressions such as ‘I ~ say’ and ‘I ~ admit’ in order to emphasize a point that you are making.

This came as a surprise, I ~ say...

I ~ admit I like looking feminine...

MODAL emphasis


You use ~ in expressions such as ‘it ~ be noted’ and ‘it ~ be remembered’ in order to draw the reader’s or listener’s attention to what you are about to say.

It ~ be noted, however, that not all British and American officers carried out orders...

It ~ be stated that this illness is one of the most complex conditions known to man.



You use ~ in questions to express your anger or irritation about something that someone has done, usually because you do not understand their behaviour.

Why ~ she interrupt?...

Must you always run when the pressure gets too much?

MODAL feelings


You use ~ in exclamations to express surprise or shock.

‘Go! Please go.’—‘You ~ be joking!’...

I really ~ be quite mad!...

MODAL emphasis


If you refer to something as a ~, you mean that it is absolutely necessary. (INFORMAL)

The new 37th issue of National Savings Certificates is a ~ for any taxpayer...

N-COUNT: usu a N in sing


You say ‘if you ~’ when you know that you cannot stop someone doing something that you think is wrong or stupid.

If you ~ be in the sunlight, use the strongest filter cream you can get...

‘Could I have a word?’—‘Oh dear, if you ~.’...

PHRASE: usu PHR inf


You say ‘if you ~ know’ when you tell someone something that you did not want them to know and you want to suggest that you think they were wrong to ask you about it.

‘Why don’t you wear your jogging shorts Mum?’—‘Well, my legs are too skinny, if you ~ know.’

PHRASE: PHR with cl

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