Grammar Guru: Must or has got to?


This week’s question is one of business register.

From an order form: “Please note that payment for food platters ___________ be received in advance.”

Must or has got to?

How would you say the same thing to a customer?

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Teaching English for business communication skills, writing online for learners, translating, sailing whenever I can, from Washington, D.C.

9 thoughts on “Grammar Guru: Must or has got to?”

  1. I would say “must” here : “payment must be received in advance”
    But to a customer, I would say “you have to pay in advance”? So I suppose the passive version goes better with “must”? don’t know really, “head’s a shed”! (learnt this phrase today, thanks to @amandalanguage!)

  2. Hi Frank,
    That’s the problem, exactly: We say “have to/ have got to/ need to” in conversation, because we don’t tell people what they “must” do.
    But the more formal business phrase uses “must”.

    “Payment must be received no later than 30 days from the date of invoice / before the order can be processed / by June 15 …”

    The food looks good to me too. I love garlic. Makes me think of beautiful Italy. Or Spain.

    What took you to Rhode Island?
    Thanks for visiting!

  3. Dear Anne,

    that’s how I would have distinguished it. Using the speech form, it is “has got” imho, using written language it’s a “must” 😉

    Well, what took me to R.I.? Mostly my beloved aunt who used to live there 😀 Also the facht that my family has over a 150 years tradition in the States also. My ancestors fought against slavery in the Civil War and my grand-grand-grand-father gave Abe Lincoln the last honors, when the dead president got buried as he was an aidee (eigentlich: Adjutant) to Lincoln.
    We do have deep roots in your country, one of my relatives was a consultant for Bill Clinton and we still have a stronghold at the eastcoast 😉

    Anyway, I won’t tell your my whole name ‘cept we’ll get more familiar 😀

    Kind regards
    Frank, mostly pronounced “Fränk”

  4. Sorry, Alice,
    Your comment was hidden away in the backend. I agree, “must” goes with anything that is not connected to you, personally, but is a more general obligation, so it goes exceedingly well with the passive.

    Haha, “me head’s a shed” must be from the UK. I’d say “I’m totally out of it today.”

  5. 14 people chose “must” – the correct business idiom
    8 people chose “has got to” – more typical in spoken English.

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