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Any difference between these two sentences ?

*du brauchst mir nicht zu helfen

*du hast mir nicht zu helfen

1 Answer 1

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Yes, big time.

du brauchst mir nicht zu helfen

You don't have to help me

du hast mir nicht zu helfen

The suggested translation by online translators is 'you don't have to help me', but that is wrong in my opinion. I would always understand it as 'it is not for you to help me' in the sense of that doing so is inappropriate. It is a rude command, often used to add dismay or disgust to a simple 'do not help me!'.

Looking at the statement form from the title:

das brauchen wir nicht tun

We don't need to do that.

das haben wir nicht zu tun.

This is not the command form, and not rude, but a simple statement for 'we are not supposed to do that' or even 'we must not do that'. Whether it is more on the "not supposed to but ok" or "forbidden" side depends a bit on context.

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