I saw this expression as a title of a short documentary on Youtube and was wondering, because it makes no sense to me grammatically.

  • 1
    Can you explain why you think it's ungrammatical? Seems perfectly standard to me. – Catija Aug 12 '16 at 23:05
  • @Catija never saw that construction before, the way I would say it "Humans don't need to apply" – Anonymous Aug 12 '16 at 23:12
  • I suppose that you could consider it a form of shorthand. The context for this text is generally on a sign or placard, so brevity is preferred. – Catija Aug 12 '16 at 23:14

It is a correct sentence. Compare it to "You need not apply for this job.". It's the same thing, but with the "for this job" implied.

Historically this phrase was used in a context (classified ad, window of a shop) that made it clear what the undesired group was not to apply for. So a shop might have had a sign up saying "Irish need not apply".

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