I've read the following quote from Game of Thrones:

Opening your eyes is all that is needing. The heart lies and the head plays tricks with us, but the eyes see true.

English is not my mother tongue, so I'd like to understand why needing is used here instead of needed.

  • 8
    It's an archaic construction, intended to sound archaic in context. – John Lawler May 21 '13 at 20:47
  • There is an interesting relationship between the words "need" and "want," "needing" and "wanting." As a kid, when I heard Psalm 23 (in the nineteenth book of the Old Testament of The Holy Bible) being read in the King James Version (1769 via 1611), I was kind of confused by this wording: "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want." Why wouldn't someone want the LORD as their shepherd, I wondered to myself! Today, a decent paraphrase would be: "[With] the LORD as my shepherd, I have everything I need." The "not want" in this case means "I'll not be in need." – rhetorician May 22 '13 at 17:02

As John said, the structure is intentionally archaic. Moreover, in my experience the usual archaic construction would be is needful, so my guess is that the author is trying to not only make it sound old, but also from a different world (i.e., the world of Game of Thrones), because this isn't a construction commonly found in modern OR old English.

  • How does it convey the sense of a "different" world, and what do you even mean by that? – Kaiser Octavius Jun 24 '13 at 22:30
  • Edited to clarify. – HannahRose Jun 24 '13 at 23:19

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