Expressing obligation

Understanding grammar is key to understanding a language.
Spanish grammar tips with Hotel Borbollón, online Spanish lessons.

Expressing obligation

There are three main ways to indicate what has to be done, or express obligation:

  • Tener que tener, presente + infinitive: obligation or strong necessity.

El ascensor no funciona, tengo que subir por las escaleras.

The elevator doesn't work, I have to go up the stairs.

Tiene que hacer la compra.

He has to go shopping.

  • Deber deber, presente + infinitive: less strong obligation.

Debo terminar el informe antes de las siete de la tarde.

I must finish the report by 7:00 p.m.

Si estás enfermo, deberías ir al médico.

If you're sick, you should go to the doctor.

  • Hay que (have to) + infinitive: obligation.

Cuando el semáforo está en rojo, hay que parar.

When the traffic light is red, we have to stop.

Hay que comer fruta y verdura cada día.

We have to eat fruit and vegetables every day.

Note: on signs, we often express obligation using es obligatorio (it is compulsory to) + infinitive verb.

Es obligatorio ducharse antes de entrar en la piscina.

It is compulsory to shower before entering the pool.

Take your learning further

Still facing difficulties with 'Expressing obligation'? Improve your Spanish with Gymglish - try our Spanish lessons for free now and receive a free level assessment!

Do you know any tips to avoid making mistakes with 'Expressing obligation'? Share it with us!

Improve your Spanish further and test Hotel Borbollón, online Spanish lessons.