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It seems to me the first one is fine, as we always say "I have some work to do". Do we say "I have some work to be done"?

If they are both correct, in which scenarios they should be used respectively?

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Questions need to answer = Questions 'you' need to answer; whereas, Questions need to be answered = Questions 'that' need to answer. So you can choose accordingly. –  jimsweb Jun 5 '13 at 15:37
@jimsweb sounds making sense –  JackWM Jun 5 '13 at 15:47
No @jimsweb is NOT correct for the reasons given in the answers below. Questions need to answer suggests that the questions need to do the answering, as in Jim needs to answer. –  TrevorD Jun 5 '13 at 16:44
@TrevorD: If Jim adds the 'you' than that pronoun becomes the subject, so the sentence is correct. If he leaves it as it is, it's wrong. –  Matthaeus Jun 5 '13 at 17:07
The parallel phrase to "I have some work to do" is "I have some questions to answer". In this case, it means that you are answering the questions. You can't say "questions need to answer", and you can't say "work need to do". It would help if you could specify more clearly what you want the sentence to mean. –  Peter Shor Jun 5 '13 at 17:20

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

"Questions need to answer" is wrong (Sorry for the harshness).

Questions is the subject, need is the verb, so the following clause relates to "the questions". That is because you use the active (active means that the subject performes the action). So you could ask: "what do the questions need to do?". In this case it would mean that the questions themselves give the answer. But even if the questions could answer themselves, it is still a grammatically incomplete sentence, because you lack an object. "The questions need to answer...what?".

On the other hand, "questions need to be answered" is a complete sentence, because you use the passive (passive means that some other entity performs the action on the subject).

In the case of "I have some work to do", you are the one doing the work, so active tense is the right choice.

I would try to avoid "I have some work to be done", because i think you can regard it as incorrect, as you could say that "to be done" is an incomplete clause. "I have some work" is already a complete clause, you yould have to add a subordinate clause, so the right phrasing youd be: "I have some work that has to be done".

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Or I have some work to do. –  TrevorD Jun 5 '13 at 16:42
@TrevorD: of course, that's the easiest option ;) –  Matthaeus Jun 5 '13 at 17:03
Fine, but 'Questions you need to answer' is fine and may be the best choice. –  TimLymington Jun 5 '13 at 17:05
@TimLymington: True, depending on the context and taste of the author it may be the stylistically preferable choice. But not without adding the 'you' that jimsweb suggested, lest the 'Questions' remains the subject. –  Matthaeus Jun 5 '13 at 17:14
Or, "I have some work yet to be done," when a person has made a good start on a project but still has a ways to go. –  rhetorician Jun 6 '13 at 0:58

"Questions need to answer" doesn't sound right to me. It seems to be stating that questions are the thing that need to answer something.

"Questions need to be answered" is stating in general that there are questions that need to be answered.

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