I recently listened to a podcast in which the narrator described an unresolved obstacle as a "problem that needed solved." My initial assumption was that he had meant to say "problem that needed to be solved," but had misspoken. However, he used the same phrase again later. I had never encountered this phrase before, so I did a google search for the exact phrase and found a surprisingly diverse set of results including user comments, professional web content, and books. I am now curious. Is this, seemingly grammatically incorrect, phrase commonly used in certain regions or is there some other known origin?


1 Answer 1


Perhaps the narrator is from Pittsburgh, PA and speaks with a particular dialect found in that region.

It’s said that if Shakespeare’s Hamlet had been a Pittsburgher, the opening phrase of his famous soliloquy would be rendered as “or not”: Pittsburghers, after all, drop “to be.” Whoever thought this up was onto something about Pittsburgh speech, but it’s not that Pittsburghers don’t use the construction “to be” across the board—it’s that in some specific contexts, some native Pittsburghers use a grammatical structure that does not include to be, whereas many other Americans use a structure that does.

My sister-in-law is from that area, and 'clothes need washed' and 'kids want fed' are common expressions. Drives my NYC-bred brother mad.

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