Medieval-esque phrases like "habeo abire" and "is habet scire" do not break the rules of Classical Latin, but I know that they were much more common afterward. This construction interests me greatly, because it's yet another "weird English thing" explained. However, as you might expect, it's quite difficult to search through an online corpus (if only corpus had a different accusative so that I could do a "or shall I say" thing) when the word habere has so many meanings. So my question is: how was "have to" used before the Middle Ages? Was it recorded at all? When was it first encountered? What were the opinions on it's usage at the time? I wouldn't consider these as multiple questions, but rather as suggestions for the ways in which one could answer my question.

  • Just to clarify, I need information about "habere" specifically, not synonyms like "debere." May 18, 2017 at 13:57
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    As a start, take a look at Lewis and Short at the end of I.A for habeo: "with inf. or with the part. fut. pass. (ante-class. and post-Aug.), to have or be obliged to do something, I must do something." There are some examples that should be of interest to you. :perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/…
    – user1466
    May 18, 2017 at 14:30
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    You could always do a "or shall I say corpum?" and we could do a "no!". // I added some tags. Do you think the new tag time-periods is included in the existing language-evolution? I'm not sure if both are needed.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    May 18, 2017 at 17:02
  • I know of a construction that was probably more common than the use of habere: necesse est, so that may or may not be relevant.
    – Sam K
    May 18, 2017 at 18:59
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    Necesse est is the most common thing to say, but I'm interested in its formality and the scenes in which one would use habere. Necesse est quod donatis mihi cogitationes scriptorum mediaevalium et rogationem meam respondetis. Sciebam bene de "necesse," sed gratias tibi ago certe. (Finaliter scribebam aliquid quod rectum est sine glossario!) May 19, 2017 at 2:32

1 Answer 1


There is a lot of material for you in the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae, VI, 3 ('habeo') col. 2454, 53 sqq., in col. 2455,65 sqq. also for the future (which might correspond more to the English 'I have to go' etc.). The secondary literature given in the TLL is probably outdated by now, but the examples are valid.

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    Can you give some of the examples here to make the answer more concrete? Also: Welcome to the site!
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Jan 30, 2018 at 19:11

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