Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Possible Duplicate:
Using -ed vs. -ing in the “needs washed” construction

I've always used the following construct:

The book needs to be read before Thursday.

But I've heard some people say:

The book needs read before Thursday.

Which is correct? Or perhaps both?

share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt Oct 1 '11 at 20:15

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

3 Answers 3

People around Pittsburg usually say needs read but most of the rest of the US would say needs to be read.

I believe needs to be is the grammatically correct version, but have a personal liking of the first (shorter) version.

share|improve this answer
    
I suspect it's very much a spoken dialectal usage, but I'd always thought it was only used in contexts where the rest of us would use the present continuous (as in "This car needs washing/needs wash"). Personally I'm not keen on "This book needs reading before Thursday". Does that affect whether it can "need read"? –  FumbleFingers Oct 1 '11 at 3:27

The first option is more common/standard, however the second is common in certain dialects. See Central Pennsylvanian English speakers: what are the limitations on the "needs washed" construction?

share|improve this answer

"Needs" is a transitive verb, so it needs some kind of noun as its direct object.

The book needs to be read before Thursday.

is one candidate; "to be" is an infinitive functioning as a noun, and since it needs to be something, we use the past participle of the verb.

Or you might skip all that and just take the gerund form of the verb by appending the -ing suffix to it, which turns it into a noun:

The book needs reading before Thursday.

This is perhaps a more informal construction, and it might sound slightly awkward to some people, especially because of the "before Thursday" at the end.

The book needs read.

is unacceptable to many educated speakers, because the past tense "read" doesn't function as a noun in any normal situation. I live in Arkansas, so I hear people use this construction occasionally, but very rarely from careful speakers.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.