Let's say you've studied Japanese for a while. In your textbook, you probably learned "I have to" is:


This is a combination of ใชใ‘ใ‚Œใฐ which means "if (one) doesn't..." and ใชใ‚Šใพใ›ใ‚“ which means "must not." The double negative means, "one must do."

ใชใ‘ใ‚Œใฐใชใ‚Šใพใ›ใ‚“ (polite) or the shorter 

ใชใ‘ใ‚Œใฐใชใ‚‰ใชใ„ forms are both correct.

But how often have you heard ใชใ‘ใ‚Œใฐใชใ‚Šใพใ›ใ‚“ in the wild? Probably not from your friends, but perhaps you've heard it on news broadcasts or with speeches and more formal occasions.

It is a little stiff. Just like the panda below...

So, how do Japanese people really say "I have to" normally?

We'll get to that, but first, here's another form of the stiff ใชใ‘ใ‚Œใฐใชใ‚Šใพใ›ใ‚“: ใชใ‘ใ‚Œใฐใ„ใ‘ใพใ›ใ‚“

ใชใ‘ใ‚Œใฐใชใ‚Šใพใ›ใ‚“ versus


Both mean "have to; must; should; ought to" but there is a (very) subtle difference in the ใชใ‚Šใพใ›ใ‚“ and ใ„ใ‘ใพใ›ใ‚“.

  • ใชใ‚Šใพใ›ใ‚“ sounds final and formal. It is objectively understood you should not do something. "You must not do something." 
  • ใ„ใ‘ใพใ›ใ‚“ is more subjective and perhaps slightly less formal. "You should not to do something"

So, ใชใ‚Šใพใ›ใ‚“ may be slightly stronger, but in general, these two are totally interchangeable. 

In this article, we'll use ใ„ใ‘ใชใ„ or ใ„ใ‘ใพใ›ใ‚“ for the examples, but ใชใ‚‰ใชใ„ or ใชใ‚Šใพใ›ใ‚“ are also possible.


The good news is, all the forms (except the last one--which is even easier) use the following construction.

  • Get the ใชใ„ form of a verb
  • Drop the ใชใ„
  • Add one of the forms below

Ready for the real Japanese you might hear in the wild? Let's get to it.

Less Stiff (Casual) Forms

ใชใใ‚ƒ (+ ใ„ใ‘ใชใ„ (or ใชใ‚‰ใชใ„)) [Used by males and females]

  • ่กŒ(ใ„)ใ‹ใชใใ‚ƒใ„ใ‘ใชใ„ I have to go.

or shorten further:

  • ่กŒใ„ใ‹ใชใใ‚ƒ I gotta go.
  • ๅ‹‰ๅผท(ในใ‚“ใใ‚‡ใ†)ใ—ใชใใ‚ƒ I gotta study.

People often say ๏ฝžใชใใ‚ƒ when talking to themselves.


However, if you want to add something after the verb, you need to bring back the ใ„ใ‘ใชใ„. This isn't always done in very casual conversation, but to be correct, bring back ใ„ใ‘ใชใ„. For example:

ใ‚ใ—ใŸใ€ๅญฆๆ ก(ใŒใฃใ“ใ†)ใซ่กŒใ„ใ‹ใชใใ‚ƒใ„ใ‘ใชใ„ใจๆ€(ใŠใ‚‚)ใ†ใ€‚ 
I think I have to go to school tomorrow.

ใชใใกใ‚ƒ  + ใ„ใ‘ใชใ„ (or ใชใ‚‰ใชใ„) [Used by males and females]

  • ่กŒใ„ใ‹ใชใใกใ‚ƒใ„ใ‘ใชใ„ I have to go.

As with ใชใใ‚ƒ, it is usually said without the ใ„ใ‘ใชใ„ unless there is some word after the verb.

  • ่กŒใ„ใ‹ใชใใกใ‚ƒ I gotta go.
  • ๅ‹‰ๅผทในใ‚“ใใ‚‡ใ†ใ—ใชใใกใ‚ƒ I gotta study.

ใ‚ใ—ใŸใ€ๅญฆๆ กใŒใฃใ“ใ†ใซ่กŒใ„ใ‹ใชใใกใ‚ƒใ„ใ‘ใชใ„ใจๆ€ใŠใ‚‚ใ†ใ€‚ 
I think I have to go to school tomorrow.

ใชใ„ใจ  + ใ„ใ‘ใชใ„ (or ใชใ‚‰ใชใ„)

  • ่กŒใ„ใ‹ใชใ„ใจใ„ใ‘ใชใ„ I have to go.

With this form, don't drop the ใชใ„! Just add ใจ and ใ„ใ‘ใชใ„ after it. Easy.

As with the above examples, you can also drop the ใ„ใ‘ใชใ„:

  • ่กŒใ„ใ‹ใชใ„ใจ I gotta go. 

This form, however, can be used in formal situations by adding ใ„ใ‘ใพใ›ใ‚“ (the ใพใ™ form):

I must study Japanese more.

The formal ใชใ„ใจใ„ใ‘ใพใ›ใ‚“ is probably more common and definitely easier to say than the textbook ใชใ‘ใ‚Œใฐใ„ใ‘ใพใ›ใ‚“. You keep the ใชใ„ and just add ใจ.

In conclusion

  • For formal usage, just use ๏ฝžใชใ„ใจใ„ใ‘ใพใ›ใ‚“
  • For casual usage, use ใชใใ‚ƒ or ใชใใกใ‚ƒ

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