We have to do homework.


We are required to do homework.

Do they mean the same?


In almost all contexts, both OP's examples (and We must do homework) are completely equivalent (but apart from the possible semantic difference given below, note that "required" is more "formal").

But in some contexts, the "required" version strongly implies someone or something else is imposing the requirement on the subject. Thus I must / have to eat probably reflects an internal compulsion to eat (I'm really hungry, and/or I'll starve if I don't eat). But I am required to eat is more likely if I'm being forced to eat unwillingly (an anorexic under doctor's orders, perhaps).

  • I agree, in most contexts they are equivalent. One is more formal (as in what a school would write) and the other is less formal (what a student might actually say). But the meaning is the same. – Lambie Oct 26 '16 at 16:04
  • @Lambie: Good point. I'll edit to reflect. – FumbleFingers Oct 26 '16 at 16:07

Not necessarily. If your home is at the top of a hill, you will have to climb the hill to get home, but you are not required to climb the hill (unless someone tells you to do so). However, you could say that necessity requires you to climb the hill. Usually, if you are required to do something, it is to keep someone else happy.

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