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    #1

    Need

    The verb need is often a source of confusion for me. For example, I've seen these phrases in different contexts:

    "We need not go into that."
    "We don't need to do this."

    I don't know if they are strictly correct, but it seems to me that the word 'to' after 'need' is sometimes left out. What's the rule, if any?

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Need

    Quote Originally Posted by rappiolla View Post
    The verb need is often a source of confusion for me. For example, I've seen these phrases in different contexts:

    "We need not go into that."
    "We don't need to do this."

    I don't know if they are strictly correct, but it seems to me that the word 'to' after 'need' is sometimes left out. What's the rule, if any?
    Both forms are fine - and interchangeable in most contexts. To my ear, the 'don't need to' suggests more urgency or personal interest:


    'Hang on - we don't need to type in all the addresses': the speaker really doesn't want to do it, because there's a better way. But the manual might say this:

    If you keep the addresses in a database, you need not type them all in manually every time you send a circular. You can simply use the Mail/Merge facility.

    The rule seems to be that after inversion (need not or needn't) you don't use 'to'. But rules aren't really my thing, so I'll defer to other teachers.

    b

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    #3

    Re: Need

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Both forms are fine - and interchangeable in most contexts. To my ear, the 'don't need to' suggests more urgency or personal interest:


    'Hang on - we don't need to type in all the addresses': the speaker really doesn't want to do it, because there's a better way. But the manual might say this:

    If you keep the addresses in a database, you need not type them all in manually every time you send a circular. You can simply use the Mail/Merge facility.

    The rule seems to be that after inversion (need not or needn't) you don't use 'to'. But rules aren't really my thing, so I'll defer to other teachers.

    b
    Thank you, I'll stay tuned to the advice of the sage if they would rally round. But this is reasuring me of a fact I wasn't explicitely conscious about. I had been using both the above forms for a long time until I became aware of the apparent inconsistency.

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