Which one is correct? If both are correct, is there any difference in the meaning?

He didn't dare to contradict his parents.

He didn't dare contradict his parents.

  • You might be interested in ELL, our sister site, which is a good site for basic English questions. Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 3:01
  • There's a third valid choice: "He dared not contradict his parents." Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 3:02
  • 1
    This has been dished here before. Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 3:23
  • 1
    @Peter And a fourth: “He durstn’t [or durst not] contradict his parents”, if you're all right with sounding a bit Victorian and stuffy. Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 4:09
  • @JanusBahsJacquet That, or backwater-British rustic, maybe somebody whose family hasn’t wandered down out of the highlands for a century or more.
    – tchrist
    Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 4:28

2 Answers 2


Need and dare are sometimes referred to as semi-modal verbs. See this answer to a previous question for a good roundup of the rules.


Both are correct. In my experience, there is no significant difference in meaning.

I will say that I personally feel like "He didn't dare contradict his parents" sounds more educated, but that's entirely a subjective assessment, and others may feel differently. But neither sounds wrong.

Note: When dare is used in the imperative (command) form, it is almost always used with to. So "Dare to try!" will be much more readily understood than "Dare try!" (and some may argue the latter is even incorrect).

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