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  1. #1
    Anonymous Guest

    Default to be - unnecessary?

    Where I currently live, in Ohio, I've encountered a grammatical practice that seems acceptable both in this state, WV, KY, and parts of PA. Perhaps this is acceptable in other regions as well. Here it is:

    Growing up in NC, the first I ever heard this was when I moved up here: "My lawn needs mowed," as opposed to "My lawn needs to be mowed." "My car needs washed," rather than "My car needs to be washed."

    This lost "to be" really threw me. In fact, I thought my hearing was going as I wasn't hearing this infinitive. Where I lived for over 30 years, before moving here, I had never heard it. And anyone who would speak in such a way would be considered uneducated. (Let's not start the "dumb Southerner" jokes, please.)

    Is there a grammatical rule that addresses this practice either way? Please reply to me at EMAIL REMOVED - Send PM to This User Instead if you can. Thank you very much.

  2. #2
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: to be - unnecessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by zippobat
    Where I currently live, in Ohio, I've encountered a grammatical practice that seems acceptable both in this state, WV, KY, and parts of PA. Perhaps this is acceptable in other regions as well. Here it is:

    Growing up in NC, the first I ever heard this was when I moved up here: "My lawn needs mowed," as opposed to "My lawn needs to be mowed." "My car needs washed," rather than "My car needs to be washed."

    This lost "to be" really threw me. In fact, I thought my hearing was going as I wasn't hearing this infinitive. Where I lived for over 30 years, before moving here, I had never heard it. And anyone who would speak in such a way would be considered uneducated. (Let's not start the "dumb Southerner" jokes, please.)

    Is there a grammatical rule that addresses this practice either way? Please reply to me at EMAIL REMOVED - Send PM to This User Instead if you can. Thank you very much.
    This is what is known as a regionalism. It is not grammatically correct, but it is common in certain areas. I had a past girlfriend who used it. She was from Minnesota, but her parents grew up in Ohio. We discussed this on another forum and many believed that central Ohio was the source of this construction.

  3. #3
    zippobat Guest

    Default Re: to be - unnecessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork
    This is what is known as a regionalism. It is not grammatically correct, but it is common in certain areas. I had a past girlfriend who used it. She was from Minnesota, but her parents grew up in Ohio. We discussed this on another forum and many believed that central Ohio was the source of this construction.

    Mike, thanks for your reply. I was hoping you could cite a specific rule of grammar. I'm currently having a "disagreement" with several others over whether the practice of dropping "to be" is merely unnerving and annoying to people like me, or whether it is actually incorrect (which is my stand on the question). Any reference with grammatical rules would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default

    I haven't heard this in the UK. We do use 'needs cutting', though. It's hard to say whether a dialect form is actually incorrect given that an identifiable body of users say it. The usual cop-out is to deem it non-standard.

  5. #5
    Android Guest

    Default Re: to be - unnecessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by zippobat
    Where I currently live, in Ohio, I've encountered a grammatical practice that seems acceptable both in this state, WV, KY, and parts of PA. Perhaps this is acceptable in other regions as well. Here it is:

    Growing up in NC, the first I ever heard this was when I moved up here: "My lawn needs mowed," as opposed to "My lawn needs to be mowed." "My car needs washed," rather than "My car needs to be washed."

    This lost "to be" really threw me. In fact, I thought my hearing was going as I wasn't hearing this infinitive. Where I lived for over 30 years, before moving here, I had never heard it. And anyone who would speak in such a way would be considered uneducated. (Let's not start the "dumb Southerner" jokes, please.)

    Is there a grammatical rule that addresses this practice either way? Please reply to me at EMAIL REMOVED - Send PM to This User Instead if you can. Thank you very much.
    This is not incorrect - it's just a non-standard grammar, an idiolect of the place, where you live.

  6. #6
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: to be - unnecessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by Android
    Quote Originally Posted by zippobat
    Where I currently live, in Ohio, I've encountered a grammatical practice that seems acceptable both in this state, WV, KY, and parts of PA. Perhaps this is acceptable in other regions as well. Here it is:

    Growing up in NC, the first I ever heard this was when I moved up here: "My lawn needs mowed," as opposed to "My lawn needs to be mowed." "My car needs washed," rather than "My car needs to be washed."

    This lost "to be" really threw me. In fact, I thought my hearing was going as I wasn't hearing this infinitive. Where I lived for over 30 years, before moving here, I had never heard it. And anyone who would speak in such a way would be considered uneducated. (Let's not start the "dumb Southerner" jokes, please.)

    Is there a grammatical rule that addresses this practice either way? Please reply to me at EMAIL REMOVED - Send PM to This User Instead if you can. Thank you very much.
    This is not incorrect - it's just a non-standard grammar, an idiolect of the place, where you live.
    I think you mean dialect.

    :)

  7. #7
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    Default Re: to be - unnecessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by zippobat
    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork
    This is what is known as a regionalism. It is not grammatically correct, but it is common in certain areas. I had a past girlfriend who used it. She was from Minnesota, but her parents grew up in Ohio. We discussed this on another forum and many believed that central Ohio was the source of this construction.

    Mike, thanks for your reply. I was hoping you could cite a specific rule of grammar. I'm currently having a "disagreement" with several others over whether the practice of dropping "to be" is merely unnerving and annoying to people like me, or whether it is actually incorrect (which is my stand on the question). Any reference with grammatical rules would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
    It is not grammatically correct. "Washed" is the past tense and past participle of the verb "wash". As such, it can be used as a past tense verb, as part of a perfect tense verb, as part of a passive verb, or as an adjective. In the construction at hand, it has none of those functions. The verb need can take an infinitive or a gerund as an object. The car needs washing. The car needs to be washed. In the second example "washed" forms a passive infinitive with "to be". Here is a usage note from the AHD:

    REGIONAL NOTE When need is used as the main verb, it can be followed by a present participle, as in The car needs washing, or by to be plus a past participle, as in The car needs to be washed. However, in some areas of the United States, especially western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, many speakers omit to be and use just the past participle form, as in The car needs washed. This use of need with past participles is slightly more common in the British Isles, being particularly prevalent in Scotland.

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