My textbook says that you can use this construction "needn't have" if you want to say that something that you have done in the past wasn't necessary and you didn't know it was unnecessary, but you have already done that.

For example:

"You needn't have bought any eggs, we already have a lot in the fridge"

So I'm curious do you say that in American English? Or is there a way to say it in American English?

  • 3
    You don’t need to buy....You don’t have to buy ..
    – user 66974
    Jan 19 at 19:30
  • Oh yes, there was a mistake in my example, I've corrected it.
    – Hikaru
    Jan 19 at 19:40
  • 1
    For Americans, that's a very high register, as in super formal and not normal talk. Jan 19 at 19:41
  • Note that what Americans would actually say is something like /yu'niɾṇəˌbɔ'ɾɛgz/ 'you needna bought eggs'. Jan 19 at 19:44
  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Is there another way to say "needn't have done"? Jan 21 at 0:41

Need (like must) as uncommon as an modal verb in spoken English, and even in writing it is "rather formal" (OALD). Needn't, common in BrE, is rare in AmE.

To express the absence of a responsibility or obligation, an AmE speaker might still use need, but in its transitive form with a to-infinitive, or as a noun:

You didn't need to buy any eggs.

There was no need to buy any eggs.

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