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    • Join Date: Sep 2007
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    #1

    he need_ not / he doesn't need

    When I heard the sentence "I need only ask you one question then I'll be out of your hair" I thought I may have misheard something.
    Up to this day I would have bet a million dollars you have to say "I need only to ask you one question".

    But then I looked up "need" in my favorite on-line dictionary and found this :
    Usage Note: Depending on the sense, the verb need behaves sometimes like an auxiliary verb (such as can or may) and sometimes like a main verb (such as want or try). When used as a main verb, need agrees with its subject, takes to before the verb following it, and combines with do in questions, negations, and certain other constructions: He needs to go. Does he need to go so soon? He doesn't need to go. When used as an auxiliary verb, need does not agree with its subject, does not take to before the verb following it, and does not combine with do: He needn't go. Need he go so soon? The auxiliary forms of need are used primarily in present-tense questions, negations, and conditional clauses. Unlike can and may, auxiliary need has no form for the past tense like could and might.

    This can obviously explain what I heard but they're not very specific on the difference of meaning...
    What is the difference between "He doesn't need to go." and "He need not go./He needn't go." ?.
    Could it be that when "need" is an auxiliary there is an obligation imposed by some external authority and when "need" is a main verb there is only a personal wish, desire, or urge...
    I was just wondering....

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    #2

    Re: he need_ not / he doesn't need

    There is no difference in meaning between "He doesn't need to go." and "He need not go."
    However, 'He needs to not go.' means 'He (must)(should) not go.' (ignore this part if it's too confusing)


    • Join Date: Sep 2007
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    #3

    Re: he need_ not / he doesn't need

    Thank you for clearing that up for me.
    It's a relief to find that sometimes the simpliest answer is the good one.

    So you can use interchangeably "He needn't go" and "He doesn't need to go" with no difference in meaning.

    But I suppose "He doesn't need to ...." is more usual ?



    And then, why should they begin their article by depending on the sense ?
    Last edited by muribad; 02-Sep-2007 at 10:43.

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    #4

    Re: he need_ not / he doesn't need

    Quote Originally Posted by muribad View Post
    Thank you for clearing that up for me.
    It's a relief to find that sometimes the simpliest answer is the good one.

    So you can use interchangeably "He needn't go" and "He doesn't need to go" with no difference in meaning.

    But I suppose "He doesn't need to ...." is more usual ?



    And then, why should they begin their article by depending on the sense ?
    "He doesn't need to ....." probably is more commonly said.

    I am not sure what "Depending on the sense," means, but then it goes on to talk about main and auxillary verbs. However, the 'explanation' given is very bad, and you should ignore it.

    main verb...He needs money. He needs some help.
    auxillary verb...He (needs to)(has to)(must) study more.

  1. #5

    Re: he need_ not / he doesn't need

    [CAUTION: I am not a teacher:take the advice and or corrections offered in this post at your own risk.
    If you doubt the information, please get a qualified opinion from one of the teachers on these forums.]


    2006 said:
    "There is no difference in meaning between "He doesn't need to go." and "He need not go."

    I disagree. To me, "he doesn't need to go" means that I objectively (because of factual information) draw the conclusion that it is not necessary for him to go as in:

    The doctors will come to him, he doesn't need to go to the hospital.

    "He need not go." Implies (to me) that it is someones subjective opinion (based on opinion or belief).

    The doctors will be here soon, you need not worry.

    Unfortunately, this can be indistinguishable from subjective opinion based on fact.

    The doctors will come to him, he need not go to the hospital.

    But this is just my opinion, I don't know that reference materials would bear me out.

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