Friends, this one has slowed me down quite a bit. There’s … much to absorb. But when I really got going on those Old English lessons, I realized that I should just make the entry and let everyone enjoy the adventure for themselves. Here’s the first stage:

“Must” is a modal auxiliary verb, bless its heart, usually used with the infinitive form of the verb it’s helping (without the “to”). Well and good.

“Must” is the past tense of “Mote,” which has meanings of possibility or obligation or a periphrastic subjunctive use “So mote it be.” Sometimes a verb of motion is understood, as in “We must away.” [01.073]

“Must” is the past and present form of itself, with the senses of obligation(“We must stand our ground”) or demand (“You must fetch the Queen a Shrubbery”). There’s also a satirical use (“She must have her hair just so”).

In modern dialect, “must” replaces “mote”, so that’s great…

Then there’s “must have” (as in “it must have rained”), indicating (I love this) the present necessity of a past action. I am, of course, enchanted and feel rather time-traveler-like. Once I’ve posted this, I will update the “Deep Throated Singing of the Dwarves” post.

I learned long ago not to make broad generalizations of the “eyebrows are always funny” sort. But…. gosh. If I were a foolish person who made generalizations, I would say that “must” is almost always serious. See what you think:

• 1.004 that long ago one of the Took ancestors must have taken a fairy wife.
• 1.043 I really must sit down for a minute
• 1.062 and we must have some music first.
• 1.073 We must away ere break of day
• 1.077 We must away, ere break of day,
• 1.082 We must away, ere break of day,
• 1.110 He was only a little hobbit you must remember.
• 1.125 I see now they must have had a private Side-door
• 1.135 we must give a thought to the Necromancer.’
• 1.140 and dragons must sleep sometimes,
• 1.144 We must away, ere break of day,
• 2.030 Somewhere behind the grey clouds the sun must have gone down,
• 2.041 “You must go on
• 2.106 must be underground before dawn,
• 2.110 that the trolls must have a cave or a hole
• 2.110 We must look into it!”
• 2.112 It must have fallen out of his pocket,
• 3.005 “We must not miss the road,
• 3.035 They must have come from a dragon’s hoard or goblin plunder,
• 3.042 it must be a moon of the same shape
• 3.042 These must have been written on a midsummer’s eve
• 3.050 and with a knowledge of the road they must follow
• 4.040 and by that time they must have been right down
• 5.008 But you must remember it was not quite so tight for him
• 5.028 It must have a competition with us,
• 5.050 It must make haste,
• 5.066 It must give us three guesseses,
• 5.079 You must show me the way.’
• 5.082 But it must wait,
• 5.082 yes it must.
• 5.082 We must go
• 5.095 We must search for it,
• 5.097 It must tell first.’
• 5.109 yes he must have.
• 5.115 it must know a way out, yes.
• 5.118 we must go quick
• 5.125 We must wait here, precious,
• 5.128 He must get away,
• 5.128 He must fight.
• 5.128 He must stab the foul thing,
• 5.145 I must get to the door,
• 5.145 I must get to the door!’
• 6.003 that he must turn back –
• 6.026 and the goblins must have opened their new entrance
• 6.027 I must see if I can’t find
• 6.033 We must be getting on at once,
• 6.033 We must be miles on before dusk.
• 6.038 we must just tighten our belts
• 6.044 We must be quick!
• 6.046 Must we go any further?’ asked Bilbo,
• 7.005 the eagles must have seen the point they were making for,
• 7.012 We must go
• 7.018 You must all be very polite when I introduce you.
• 7.018 and you must be careful not to annoy him,
• 7.020 If you must know more,
• 7.095 that they must soon venture into that forest
• 7.105 you must not stray outside until the sun is up,
• 7.116 They must have looked very queer from outside,
• 7.117 There must have been a regular bears’ meeting
• 7.122 and who they thought must be sheltering them.
• 7.123 You must forgive my not taking your word.
• 7.126 That you MUST NOT do,
• 7.127 you must depend on your luck
• 7.127 At the gate of the forest I must ask you to send back my horse
• 7.135 Now you must send back these excellent ponies
• 7.149 You must either go through or give up your quest.
• 8.026 you must be with the last
• 8.028 they saw that it must have stuck
• 8.028 One of the others must keep hold of the hook
• 8.040 Somebody must climb a tree
• 8.041 the climber must get his head above the topmost leaves,
• 8.041 and so he must be light enough for the highest
• 8.052 Go on, if you must,’
• 8.059 and calling till they must have waked everything
• 8.069 Later when the night must have been getting old,
• 8.070 and many fires must have been lit suddenly
• 8.092 when he must do something.
• 8.098 but then you must remember that he had to make it up himself,
• 8.117 and you must keep together
• 8.129 and there we must leave them for the present,
• 9.012 but must go on miserably
• 9.025 It must be potent wine to make a wood-elf drowsy;
• 9.028 We must all keep together
• 9.028 All of us must escape or none,
• 9.063 so we must hurry on.
• 10.006 what must once have been
• 10.042 and his company must go on towards the Mountain.
• 10.044 You must claim your own.
• 11.011 all the halls within must be filled with his foul reek.’
• 11.013 must stand the secret door.
• 12.070 you must realize
• 12.078 Well, I really must not detain Your Magnificence any longer,’
• 12.102 even where he guessed the outlet must actually be.
• 13.002 I must feel the wind on my face soon or die.
• 13.021 But I suppose I must tell the dwarves about it –
• 13.061 We must move away from here,’
• 13.069 We must take our chance of that,’
• 14.001 you must go back again to the evening
• 15.009 You must have heard the ugly names
• 15.020 Your own wisdom must decide your course;
• 15.030 They must have come into the valley
• 16.041 Really I must be going,
• 17.037 in the end it must come to unhappy blows.’
• 17.064 in such a host as must have gathered
• 18.018 if it must end so;
• 18.019 I must leave it now.

“must, v.1.” OED Online, Oxford University Press, March 2021, Accessed 26 April 2021.

4 thoughts on “Must

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s