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    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
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      • Vietnam
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    #1

    What does "nothing need prevent him from doing it" mean

    Hi all,

    Can you tell me what this sentence means? It's from a book called "The Story of Abraham Lincoln".

    "If a man really wants to serve his country, nothing need prevent him from doing it."

    What does "nothing need prevent him from doing it" mean?
    When I first heard this word, I thought oh maybe the "need" here is an adjective, or it might well be a homonym, but then I looked at the text, and looked it up in a dictionary, Googled it, I still don't understand what it means.

    It seems a verb to me, so I thought is it one of those verbs that are not necessarily followed by "to", but even if that's the case, "nothing need to prevent him..."still seems a bit odd to me, also, it should have been "needs" if it's a verb, right?

    Can you please tell me what it means and what part of speech it is?

    Thank you very much : )

    • Member Info
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    #2

    Re: What does "nothing need prevent him from doing it" mean

    "If a man really wants to serve his country, nothing need prevent him from doing it."

    This is an example of an obsolete use of the subjunctive after if. It means there's no need for anything to prevent a person who really wants to from serving their country.

    [Edited to strike out misinformation. See post #3.]
    Last edited by GoesStation; 14-Feb-2016 at 15:48.
    I am not a teacher.

  1. Piscean's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: What does "nothing need prevent him from doing it" mean

    'Need' is functioning as a modal there. It's not subjunctive.
    Last edited by Piscean; 15-Feb-2016 at 13:04. Reason: minor typo.

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