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#1
Rachel Adams is offline Key Member
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Didn't have to/didn't need to

These sentences are from "English Grammar in Context" by Michael Vince. The book explains if something wasn't necessary "didn't need to" is used and for obligation "had to" or "didn't have to". But would it be wrong to say that "didn't have to" can be used in the second sentence and "didn't need to" in the first if it depends on what the speaker wants to express?

1. "Of course, in ancient times athletes didn't have to take drug tests."

2. "In ancient Greece, winning athletes didn't need to work again."

#2
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Re: Didn't have to/didn't need to

"need to" wouldn't work in sentence 1. No one "needs" to take a drug test - it's an obligation if you're a professional athlete. It's something you have to do.
"have to" wouldn't work in sentence 2. No one has to work. It's optional. As it stands, the sentence makes it clear that athletes had no need to work. Whether this is because they won a lot of money or because, as champions, they were given everything they needed to live isn't clear.
Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

#3
Rachel Adams is offline Key Member
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Re: Didn't have to/didn't need to

Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
"need to" wouldn't work in sentence 1. No one "needs" to take a drug test - it's an obligation if you're a professional athlete. It's something you have to do.
"have to" wouldn't work in sentence 2. No one has to work. It's optional. As it stands, the sentence makes it clear that athletes had no need to work. Whether this is because they won a lot of money or because, as champions, they were given everything they needed to live isn't clear.
I meant "didn't need to" in 1 and "didn't have to in 2.
1. "Of course, in ancient times athletes didn't need to take drug tests."

2. "In ancient Greece, winning athletes didn't have to work again."

#4
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Re: Didn't have to/didn't need to

I knew exactly what you meant. I just didn't bother writing "didn't" each time.
Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

#5
Rachel Adams is offline Key Member
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Re: Didn't have to/didn't need to

Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
I knew exactly what you meant. I just didn't bother writing "didn't" each time.
Would it be wrong to say that when something was done but it wasn't necessary only "needn't have done" is used? But it is not used for an action that wasn't done. For example, "I needn't have bought another loaf of bread. We already had one." (I bought it). If I didn't buy a loaf of bread or even if I bought it but it wasn't necessary I can use either "I didn't need to" and " didn't have to". Am I right?
I also used explanations in this thread.
https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/t...Didn-t-need-to
Post #4.
And this one:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/l...rnitv317.shtml

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Re: Didn't have to/didn't need to

Quote Originally Posted by Rachel Adams View Post
Would it be wrong to say that when something was done but it wasn't necessary only "needn't have done" is used? But it is not used for an action that wasn't done. For example, "I needn't have bought another loaf of bread. We already had one." (I bought it). If I didn't buy a loaf of bread or even if I bought it but it wasn't necessary I can use either "I didn't need to" and " didn't have to". Am I right?
I also used explanations in this thread.
https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/t...Didn-t-need-to
Post #4.
And this one:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/l...rnitv317.shtml
Bread was purchased by "A", and "B" said,"I bought bread yesterday. You didn't have to have bought some today."/ "You didn't need to have bought some today." OR, bread was purchased by "B" only (B to A), "I bought bread yesterday. You don't need to buy some today./You don't have to buy some today."

My shot.

#7
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Re: Didn't have to/didn't need to

Quote Originally Posted by Yankee View Post
"I bought bread yesterday. You didn't have to have bought some today."/ "You didn't need to have bought some today."
They both sound very unnatural to me.
Last edited by GoesStation; 17-Apr-2021 at 17:49. Reason: Fix a typo.

#8
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Re: Didn't have to/didn't need to

Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
They both sound very unnatural to me.
Perhaps not in everyone's day-to-day, usage but not ungrammatical. Given a choice I would tend to use the form with "...didn't need to have.....".

#9
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Re: Didn't have to/didn't need to

If the person (unnecessarily) bought bread today, use "I bought bread yesterday. You didn't need to buy it today".
If the person is considering buying bread later today, use "I bought bread yesterday. You don't need to buy it today".
Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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