"Haben Sie etwas zum Schreiben?" in a phone-call context means:

a) Would you like to leave a note?

b) Do you have something close at hand to write down a note?

c) something else (idiomatic expression)

The question popped up during an exercise and we are doubtful about the real meaning because of the following reasons:

  • have to can be used in replacement of must (müssen)
  • Schreiben has multiple meanings
  • some idiomatic expression sometimes can't be found on a dictionary.
  • wo genau hast du aaaaaaaaaaaa gesagt?
    – tofro
    Jul 25 '16 at 14:39
  • Is that from a multiple choice test?
    – Robert
    Jul 25 '16 at 18:23
  • I don't think that question is of-topic. It can be related to some grammar topic that can bing confusion for a lerner: - haben zu is often used instead of müssen
    – chiaraluna
    Jul 26 '16 at 9:22
  • Robert - in some way yes. I was studing with other people and some gave different interpretations (a and b).
    – chiaraluna
    Jul 26 '16 at 9:35
  • "Haben zu" is sometimes used in the sense of müssen. But there's a clear distinction between "Haben Sie zu schreiben?" and your sentence. And the word "zum" is obviously not part of "haben zu". Instead, it's a pretty simple sentence and I don't see where confusion arose. To make that question on-topic you would have to narrow that down.
    – Em1
    Jul 26 '16 at 9:53

The caller asks you, if you have a piece of paper and a pencil which you can use to take some notes. So sentence b) is right.

  • thank you very much! I was confused because the different meanings of "das Schreiben" and the "have zu" construct, that can also mean "have to"!
    – chiaraluna
    Jul 26 '16 at 9:32

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