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Central Pennsylvanian English speakers: what are the limitations on the “needs washed” construction?
Using -ed vs. -ing in the “needs washed” construction

I've noticed in forums and advertisements a surge in the use of this mixed tense phrase. I would never say this- I would write "needs to be fixed" or "needs fixing".

Is this a local usage that has gone worldwide recently? I'm not one to be very strict about colloquial English, but this one is grating to me.

Edit: For many, many examples, try this Google Search: http://www.google.com/search?q=forum+"needs+fixed"

  • Please link to at least one example (along with a quote/excerpt) so that we can get a handle on the context :) Needs could well be used as a noun which would make the phrase grammatical if unusual. Aug 23, 2012 at 16:12
  • @coleopterist I see it often in Craigslist, but linking posts there is temporally hazardous. See kel196's links for more detail, thanks. OK- I just added a Google Search with 139,000 results.
    – kmarsh
    Aug 23, 2012 at 16:24
  • @kmarsh Ugh! My guess is that they are the same people who use "could of", "would of", and "should of". All of them need to be taken behind the shed ... Aug 23, 2012 at 16:29
  • Hmmm Question and answer both just got downvoted, but no reason given...
    – kmarsh
    Aug 23, 2012 at 18:17
  • See the existing threads on "needs washed" and "needs cleaned". We do not need still another one of these!
    – GEdgar
    Aug 23, 2012 at 18:36

1 Answer 1


"Needs to be fixed" or "needs fixing" would be the way I would say it too as "needs fixed" seems like it is missing a word or two.

In reply to your question, I think it is a local usage/lazy contraction that has been only noticed as people use it online. This post suggests that it goes back at least 5 years http://forums.xkcd.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=16162 .

I haven't personally seen the term being used before. This article suggests it's a "Pittsburgh English": http://www.dailywritingtips.com/this-sink-needs-fixed/

Hope this helps...

Edit: I researched a bit more on which region this usage/contraction originates from.

"However, this truncated expression (“needs washed,” “needs fixed,” and so on) is a well-known usage common to many widely scattered regions of the United States. But it’s even more common in Britain, particularly northern England and Scotland. I would classify it as an example of dialect." (Source: http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2007/10/need-to-know.html)

Anecdotal evidence from other internet folks' indicate central Pennsylvania, Southwestern Ohio, Southern Illinois and Central Indiana. States that the phrase has not been heard of or is uncommon include ME, NH, VT, MA, DC, MD, CA. (Source: http://ask.metafilter.com/148509/needs-replaced-v-needs-to-be-replaced)

From my personal experiences, I have not heard the usage from my Scottish or Northern English friends!

  • 1
    Nothing lazy about speaking a dialect with some archaic forms in it. All English speakers do. And this is a very common usage in the U.S. regionally. Aug 23, 2012 at 16:29
  • What region do you think its from? Pittsburg? I'm from Maryland and never heard this locally.
    – kmarsh
    Aug 23, 2012 at 16:32
  • 1
    @kmarsh Added some detail on the possible origins!
    – Kel196
    Aug 23, 2012 at 19:30
  • I'm from Pittsburgh and we use "needs fixed" all the time, which confuses and frustrates all of my Philadelphia friends.
    – aez
    Jan 7, 2016 at 3:06

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