I am not a native English speaker. I had a sentence to translate into English. The sentence was about renting. The person the mail is sent to didn't pay his rent and he has until 27/06/2016 to pay it.

The sentence is:

"You need to pay the 3 months' rent (3000 USD) of the house that you are allowed to stay until 27/06/2016."

He is allowed to stay in the house until 27th of August, else he should move out.

My question is whether the usage of "need" is okay for that situation, or should I use different word instead?

  • It all depends of the modality you'd like to imply: 1) you need to pay = this is compulsory; 2) you must pay = obligation by the speaker.
    – Schwale
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 17:10
  • 1
    I think "must" is more strict and serious; It would sound like a formal rule.
    – Cardinal
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 17:29

1 Answer 1


As I read your example, it seems to tie the date with "staying", rather than "paying" which is the point of the statement. So I would change the phrase order:

You need to pay the 3 months' rent (3000 USD) for the house by 27/06/2016, so that you will be allowed to stay beyond 27/06/2016.

This says he has to pay the rent by 27/06/2016, and if not paid he cannot stay after that date.

The second part may be more understandable if you base it on leaving, not staying:

You need to pay the 3 months' rent (3000 USD) for the house by 27/06/2016, otherwise you will need to move out before 27/06/2016.

Using need is OK, unless you think you need to be more direct with the renter, however you have sufficiently stated the consequences for not paying. This depends on your relationship with the renter. Ultimately the rental agreement takes care of what actually happens. Any notice has to follow obligations in the agreement.

  • Yes. The direct answer to the question is that "need to" can mean "must", as in, you are required to do this. The above answer is correct in its other notes about the grammar of the sentence.
    – Jay
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 19:08

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