Sunday, May 10, 2009

modal auxiliary : NEED

The Use of NEED

When NEED is used as an ordinary English verb with the structure : verb+ to-infinitive it behaves exactly like the verbs want , wish , desire etc. It is inflected for number and person when the subject is third person singular . Its negatives and questions are formed with the help of dummy auxiliary do Look at these examples:

*She needs to take a few days rest.

*He does not need to go to office.

*She didn't need to call a taxi. I offered her a lift.

*Does he need to show his passport every time he checks-in ?

You can see from these examples that NEED behaves like ordinary verbs want or wish .

NEED as a Modal Auxiliary

When NEED is used as a modal auxiliary , it does not inflect for number or person when the subject is third person singular Need is followed by bare infinitive, that is , base-form of the verb,.

She need not go to school today

He need not learn Chinese for studying medicine in China.

When NEED is used as a modal auxiliary do- support is not required for negatives and questions

She need not worry about getting a job .

Need he come early tomorrow?

Please note that this dual behavior of NEED has enriched the English languageWhen NEED is used with do-support it carries the idea of a permanent habit and when it is used as a modal auxiliary it carries the idea of a particular occasion

Do I need to wear a tie whenever I attend the club(permanent habit)

Need I get up so early tomorrow?(a particular occasion)

Moreover, the question using need as ordinary verb is an open question The answer can be yes or no ..On the contrary ,the question using need as a modal auxiliary anticipates a negative reply.

The negative of needed is didn't need in present-day English .(that is, need as an ordinary verb) Examples:
He needed to earn a little more money to heep family happy .

He didn't need to work so hard He has a lot of money in the bank!

Needn't have is used when an action was unnecessary , but was done nevertheless.(Amodal use of the verb) Examples:

You needn't have gone to the railway station Your train has been cancelled.

You needn't have booked the tickets .She has changed her plans!

Thus the use of NEED as both an ordinary verb and a modal auxiliary has enriched the E nglish language It would be a poor version of English if it uses need only as an ordinary verb .!

Now to summarize

NEED as ordinary verb:
*takes -s ending in present tense when subject is third person singular

*do-support required for questions and negatives.

*it is followed by to-infinitive

NEED as modal auxiliary
*does not take -s ending when subject is third person singular

*no do-support for questions and negatives

*it is followed by bare infinitive

I will continue the discussion in my next post

Thank you

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