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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    Angry Use of past tense verb as though a gerund

    Lately, I have been hearing sentences such as:
    "My car needs fixed, so I will take it to the shop".
    It drives me crazy to hear that. The past tense verb "fixed" is being used as though a gerund or as an infinitive without "to".
    I would normally use either the present progressive tense:
    "My car needs fixing, so I will take it to the shop".
    or use an infinitive:
    "My car needs to be fixed, so I will take it to the shop".

    My question is: Is the use of the past tense verb in his manner acceptable grammer,
    or is it a colloquialism, and if so, how widespread is the colloquialism?

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Use of past tense verb as though a gerund

    It's a mistake. I have never encountered it from a native speaker.

    Welcome to the forum.

  3. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Use of past tense verb as though a gerund

    It's unknown in Australia - and I would say, in standard English. Where have you been hearing it?

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    #4

    Smile Re: Use of past tense verb as though a gerund

    I appreciate the two replies. Neither was from the United States. I have heard the apparent error in grammar in Pennsylvania and Minnesota. I am curious as to whether any forum members have heard this error in their own US localities.

  5. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Use of past tense verb as though a gerund

    Quote Originally Posted by dsweeton View Post
    I appreciate the two replies. Neither was from the United States. I have heard the apparent error in grammar in Pennsylvania and Minnesota. I am curious as to whether any forum members have heard this error in their own US localities.
    Were the people from Pennsylvania and Minnesota actually American and therefore native speakers, or did they simply just live there?

    I will be very surprised if this is acceptable in any form of English (that doesn't mean that things aren't used colloquially or in certain dialects, but that doesn't make them correct grammatically).

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    #6

    Re: Use of past tense verb as though a gerund

    My wife and I moved to northeast Ohio from Minnesota and Delaware. The many locals around here often speak that way. I had never heard it previously and it drives me nuts. My kids have started to pick it up and I correct them every time.

    I hate to say it, but it seems catchy and will probably become an accepted English language contruct in a generation. -but I'm not an English teacher.

  7. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Use of past tense verb as though a gerund

    A few days ago I was listening to a programme on BBC radio 4, they were interviewing women who had had twins. One woman was Scottish and she said, "It's difficult when they both need changed at the same time". I hadn't heard it before, but perhaps it's Scottish as well.

  8. 5jj's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Use of past tense verb as though a gerund

    Quote Originally Posted by HaloMez View Post
    I hate to say it, but it seems catchy and will probably become an accepted English language contruct in a generation. -but I'm not an English teacher.
    Possibly, though I doubt it. Whether or not that does happen in the future, it is not acceptable in standard BrE, AusE or AmE in 2011.

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    #9

    Re: Use of past tense verb as though a gerund

    This is the way we talk in Western Pennsylvania. The car needs washed. The floor needs mopped.

    This is an area whose dialect is very much derived from Scots-Irish immigrants. It's not standard American English, and I would not use the formulation in formal business writing. But it is perfectly acceptable in everyday use in this region.

    need, want, or like + past participle (Murray, Frazer and Simon 1996; Tenny 1998; McElhinny 1999; Murray and Simon 1999; Montgomery 2001; Johnstone, Bhasin and Wittkofski 2002; Murray and Simon 2002; Wisnosky 2003; Johnstone and Baumgardt 2004; Johnstone, Andrus and Danielson 2006).

    Examples: “The car needs washed”; “The cat wants petted”; “Babies like cuddled”.
    Further explanation: More common constructions are “Babies like cuddling” or “Babies like to be cuddled”; “”The car needs washing” or “The car needs to be washed”; and “The cat wants petting” or “The cat wants to be petted.”

    Geographic distribution: Found predominantly in the North Midland region, but especially in southwestern Pennsylvania (Murray, Frazer and Simon 1996; Murray and Simon 1999; Murray and Simon 2002). Need + past participle is the most common construction, followed by want + past participle, and then like + past participle. The forms are "implicationally related" to one another (Murray and Simon 2002). This means the existence of one construction in a given location entails the existence (or not) of another in that location. Here’s the implicational breakdown: where we find like + past participle, we will also necessarily find want and need + past participle; where we find want + past participle, we will also find need + past participle, but we may or may not find like + past participle; where we find need + past participle, we may or may not find want + past participle and like + past participle. Put another way, the existence of the least common
    construction implies the necessary existence of the two more common constructions, but the existence of the most common construction does not necessarily entail existence of the two less common constructions.

    Origins: like + past participle is Scots-Irish (Murray and Simon 2002). need + past participle is Scots-Irish (Murray, Frazer, and Simon 1996; Murray and Simon 1999; Montgomery 2001; Murray and Simon 2002). While Adams[5] argues that want + past participle could be from Scots-Irish or German, it seems likely that this construction is Scots-Irish, as Murray and Simon (1999 and 2002) claim. like and need + past participle are Scots-Irish, the distributions of all three constructions are implicationally related, the area where they are predominantly found is most heavily influenced by Scots-Irish, and a related construction, want + directional adverb, as in “The cat wants out,” is Scots-Irish.[11]
    Pittsburgh English - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    #10

    Re: Use of past tense verb as though a gerund

    Soothing Dave thank you for the in depth answer to my question. It appears that this issue is now put to rest. My feeling that the origin of this grammatical error in the USA was in Western Pennsylvania was apparently correct. The Scots-Irish influence provides a good explanation.
    My concern now, as a language purist, is that the grammatical error is very contagious. I have heard it spoken here in Ohio by various people who interact with a particular individual from Western Pennsylvania. I am afraid I must agree with the forum responder who suggested that the use of this construction will eventually spread widely enough to become Standard English.

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