On omitting "to be"



I've (though rarely) more than once run into phrases where a usual "to be" happened to be omitted. For example:

That needed done as soon as possible

Whereas usually one (at least a non-native speaker) would have probably instead expected:

That needed to be done as soon as possible

I'm curious as to whether:

  1. This is a common form
  2. This is acceptable in both informal and formal situations
  3. This can be extended to other verbs. For example:

    That had done as soon as possible

    makes my ears bleed a little bit, but given that "that needed done as soon as possible" is acceptable that might be just because I'm not used to the construction.


Posted 2016-03-24T21:15:22.920

Reputation: 501

Regarding the comment from @Yay, where are you? Seems this may be a factor. – user3169 – 2016-03-24T22:39:00.430

@user3169 Nowhere near where that'd be used: I can't really remember where exactly I learned about it the first time, but I'm sure I've seen it again be used in some chatroom here on SE. So it would be a regionalism? – kos – 2016-03-24T22:48:42.947



That needed done as soon as possible.

is incorrect, but you could use:

That needed doing as soon as possible.

The last example needs a to be.

That had to be done as soon as possible.


Posted 2016-03-24T21:15:22.920

Reputation: 29 679


Please check out what Grammar Girl says on the matter

– Yay – 2016-03-24T21:46:35.313

OK, but it is a regional usage at best. For reference, I don't live near a blue dot. – user3169 – 2016-03-24T22:37:51.517


Need is a transitive verb

A transitive verb means that the verb requires a direct object, a noun. You can't just say

I need

and call it a complete sentence. What do I need?

Done is not a noun

Done is an adjective, and it is a past participle of to do.

Consider this, you wouldn't say

George needs blue

Pattie needs lost

Bobby needs found

Sherry needs dirty

Those are all incomplete sentences. Need requires an object as I pointed out.

These are all complete sentences:

The bald guy needs hair

Stephanie needs water

Vanessa needs glucose



Posted 2016-03-24T21:15:22.920

Reputation: 1 767