My car broke down today and I had to miss such an important meeting. My car just won't start.

How do you simplify the word won't in the sentence above?

How do you simplify the words miss and had to?

I do not really want to teach grammar of have to to my mother. She is an absolute beginner and really eager to learn English. But she is very reluctant to communicative classes. She is around 60 and of course I will teach her grammar in right time but now I need your help.


It's a little unclear exactly where the confusion lies here - is it in the use of contractions? Past-tense verbs? Multiple definitions for "have" and miss"?

"Had" is the past tense of "have." "Have to [verb]" in this case is an imperative or obligation like "must [verb]" or "forced to [verb]". See Definition #2 here.

I was forced to miss the meeting due to something out of my control.

To "miss" in this case means "fail to attend," or let something pass by. See Definition #7 here.

I missed my doctor's appointment yesterday.

This is a different use than the idea of "missing" a person because they are gone, but it's similar in that there's something/someone you wish to encounter but do not.

"Won't" is a contraction, or a shortening of a word signified by the use of an apostrophe in place of the missing letters. It's (it is) short for "will not." This is equivalent to "refusing to."

My car will not start. My car refuses to start.

If "won't" is unclear, then perhaps discussing contractions in general is a good idea.

Other common ones include:

  • "can't" for "cannot" (unable to do something)
  • "shouldn't" for "should not" (it's a bad idea to do something)
  • "wouldn't" for "would not" (hypothetically refusing to do something)
  • "don't" for "do not" (telling someone not to do something)

In this context "had to" means "was forced to".

"Miss" is used in the context of attendance - you were expected to attend an important meeting, but were unable to do so.

We can clarify this further by substituting the phrase above: "was unable to attend" instead of "had to miss". This inverts the emphasis on both halves, but ends up meaning the same thing.

"Won't" is a contraction meaning "will not".

To plug these into the original sentence, it could read something like this:

My car broke down today, and I was unable to attend such an important meeting. My car just will not start.


My car broke down today and I missed an important meeting. My car just won't start/doesn't work.

It really doesn't get easier than that, I'm afraid. Even my changes if anything only make it marginally simpler - "to miss" is just a vocable that needs to be learned. And do/don't/does/doesn't (or the respective longer forms do not/does not) should also be one of the earlier English lessons.

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