I saw this sentence below.

“If I can verbalize my anxiety, what need have you to focus on my body language, smells, or other physical or psychological signs that might accompany these feeling?”

And I can get the meaning of ‘what need have you to~’ vaguely. However, shouldnt it be like ‘What need do you have to focus~?’

  • Like 'What right have you to ...' and 'What need is there to ...', 'What need have you to' is grammatically fine. It's probably considered more formal / literary than 'What right have you to ...'. But then 'What need do you have to ...' is also more formal than 'Why do you need to ...'. – Edwin Ashworth May 8 '18 at 7:16
  • It's a more formal, fancy, and also outdated way of saying the same thing. You will see it only rarely, and only with the verb "have". Like, you can hear people say "what have we here" instead of "what do we have here", but you'll never hear them say "what play you" instead of "what do you play", or "what wants he" instead of "what does he want". I wouldn't worry about this. You'll never need to use this construction yourself, and when others do use it, the meaning will be clear to you. – RegDwigнt May 10 '18 at 11:05
  • @RegDwigнt I got it! Yes, I’ve heard what have we here! Thanks! – HD Jeong May 11 '18 at 6:01
  • question nicely answered in comments. – lbf May 11 '18 at 12:23
  • They still say "what play you" and "what wants he" in German, as well as other Germanic languages. A long time ago English, also a Germanic language, used to do this, too. But then it developed the so-called do-support for questions and negative statements. Which other related languages didn't. So while in German saying "what have we here" ("was haben wir hier") is the only way, in English it's now "what do we have here", while "what have we here" is a remnant of long-bygone times. (Just like "children" and "mice" instead of "childs" and "mouses".) – RegDwigнt May 11 '18 at 19:00

protected by Community May 11 '18 at 5:55

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