I know "have to" expresses 'obligations to do something' and I know how to use it in the sentences. For example:

People have to leave their rural areas.

But I have seen ‘having to’ being used as gerunds and in the present continuous tense. For example:

  1. People are having to leave their rural areas. Source

  2. She is having to look after herself now. Source

  3. "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Source

Having read them all, I came to think the first and second sentence are in the present continuous tense.

I'm not sure but my opinion about these three sentences are as follows:

First sentence means:

  • people are obliged to leave their rural areas (The obligation of leaving rural areas is continuing in present and they are now leaving their areas)

The second sentence means:

  • She is in the obligation of looking after herself now. (she didn't have to look after before but now she is in the obligation to look after herself)

I think the third sentence is not in present continuous tense.

"Love means never having to say you're sorry"

  • It means: Love means you never have to say you're sorry.

Here Having to replaces you have to

Am I correct in my opinion? Please correct me If I'm wrong about the meanings of those sentences.

I think one more example could be:

Employment means you have to work

Employment means having to work.

Again, here having to replaces you have to. Do both of these sentences convey the same meaning?

  • All of your conclusions are correct. This is exactly how we use having to. You can safely delete this question as well! (Hint: try to make your questions more concise, with fewer examples, and fewer repetitions of "I think this means" and "Am I correct?") Nov 10, 2016 at 21:52
  • It doesn't matter where in the sentence we use having to. It always expresses obligation: Having to ask this question again is a bummer. There it is used in a gerund phrase at the beginning of a sentence, and it is the subject. Also, in your last example, having to does not replace you have to. Having to has no subject. To replace you have to, it would be necssary to say your having to. Nov 10, 2016 at 22:41
  • 2
    A gerund is not a noun.
    – user230
    Nov 12, 2016 at 16:15
  • 1
    @snailplane Well, it's only a dictionary, but Webster's defines gerund as "an English noun formed from a verb by adding -ing." Of course I know that there is a great foofaraw in progress on the subject between the People's Front of Judea and the Judean People's Front, but I quantify the number of angels on the head of this particular pin by relying on tchrist's thinking here in which he puts it as: "A gerund is always a noun and verb at the same time. It is type of verbal noun, a noun that has verbal properties as well." so: Nov 19, 2016 at 6:39
  • 1
    @snailplane A gerund not only is a noun: It is more than a mere noun. Nov 19, 2016 at 6:41

2 Answers 2


Here is what you are looking for, both 'have to' and 'having to' give the same type of sentences but the event/state in which both sentences have been said is important.

"Have to": to need to do something.(obligation)

"Having to" is the progressive form. (obligation in progressive state)

  1. People are having to leave their rural areas.
  2. She is having to look after herself now.

Both sentences are in continuous tense with the obligation expressed by having to


There's a very wide usage of "have". Here's is the closest you're looking for: http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/have

have or have got when you should or must do something. If you have to do something, you must do it because it is necessary:

  • I had to leave early to collect the children from school.
  • If you want to use the fax machine, you’ll have to ask Shirley.
  • We’re having to be very careful not to upset our customers.
  • There will have to be an official investigation into the accident.

Do not have to do something (=it is not necessary):

  • You don’t have to come if you don’t want to.
  • I’m glad we haven’t got to get up early tomorrow.

If you have something to do, you must do it have something to do:

  • Mr Klein couldn’t stay – he had something to attend to.
  • I can’t stand here talking to you all day – I have work to do.
  • I'm not looking for 'Have to', but about 'Having to'
    – yubraj
    Nov 14, 2016 at 11:44
  • @yubrajsharma Use 'have' in the progressive. Nov 14, 2016 at 12:10

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .