2-Part Question:

1) What is the grammatical term for "to be" in the following statement? "This needs to be repaired."

2) Is it slang or an accepted trend that more and more the "to be" portion is dropped? Statement phrased as "This needs repaired."

  • 2
    Part 2 is pretty much answered here.
    – Laurel
    Jan 17, 2018 at 18:38

1 Answer 1


1) The verb be/am/is/etc. is referred to as a "copula". "be" is the infinitive form of the copula, and "to" is generally analyzed as being a particle that's part of the full infinitive (that is, "be" is the bare infinitive, while "to be" is the full infinitive).

2) "Standard" English require the copula. Forms without the copula can be considered "slang", "nonstandard dialect", "regionalism", etc., depending on one's preferred nomenclature.

Se for example https://ygdp.yale.edu/phenomena/needs-washed

  • This corresponds to a German idiom: Dein Auto gehört gewaschen, lit. "Your car belongs washed," but I'd expect "needs washed" to be much further east of Pittsburgh if the German had been any influence.
    – KarlG
    Jan 17, 2018 at 20:04
  • @EdwinAshworth "Be" is a copula that can be used in an auxiliary role. Those are not mutually exclusive. Jan 17, 2018 at 22:17
  • Huddleston et al may agree, but Quirk et al don't. It's misleading to trot out one analysis as if it's the only one that linguists subscribe to. I've adjusted my comment. Jan 17, 2018 at 22:45
  • [Comment 2 in sequence, emended] This is 'be' in an auxiliary, not a copular, role, according to Quirk, Greenbaum et al. Jan 17, 2018 at 22:46

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