Expressing One's Own Obligations, with
I have to ...
The ～なければならない (or, more formally, ～なければなりません) structure is one that needs to be learnt as a chunk. It simply means "have to ..."
A note to help you make sense of this extremely useful phrase:
- It's made up of two parts: ～なければ ("if I don't ～") plus ならない／なりません (things won't go well for me... loosely translated!)
- It's generally used to talk about one's own personal obligations, rather than someone else's.
An example to whet your appetite:
Forming the structure:
To form the first half (the ～なければ bit):
- Begin with a verb in the plain form negative. E.g. しない (I don't do); やらない (I don't do); 行かない (I don't go)
- Remove the final い and replace with ければ
- So しない becomes しな＋ければ (if + I don't do); やらない becomes やらな＋ければ (if + I don't do); 行かない becomes 行かな＋ければ (if + I don't go). (Obviously, you don't need the plus sign in between...)
To form the second half (the ならない or なりません bit).
- Simply add ならない or なりません, depending on the level of formality you want.
- Which gives you しなければなりません・やらなければなりません (both mean "I have to do"); 行かなければなりません ("I have to go")
Some more examples to get excited about!
You can use it in the past tense, too.