Word forms: needs
DefinitionsNeed sometimes behaves like an ordinary verb, for example 'She needs to know' and 'She doesn't need to know' and sometimes like a modal, for example 'She need know', 'She needn't know', or, in more formal English, 'She need not know.'
1. verb [no cont] If you need something, or need to do something, you cannot successfully achieve what you want or live properly without it. [V n] ⇒ He desperately needed money. [V n] ⇒ These diets provide everything your body needs. [V to-inf] ⇒ I need to make a phone call. [V to-inf] ⇒ A baby does not need to wear shoes until he starts to walk. [V n to-inf] ⇒ I need you to do something for me. [V n adv/prep] ⇒ I need you here, Wally. [V n adj] ⇒ I need you sane and sober. Need is also a noun. ⇒ Charles has never felt the need to compete with anyone. [+ for] ⇒ ...the child who never had his need for attention and importance satisfied. [+ of] ⇒ ...the special nutritional needs of the elderly. 2. verb [no cont] If an object or place needs something doing to it, that action should be done to improve the object or place. If a task needs doing, it should be done to improve a particular situation. [V n] ⇒ The building needs quite a few repairs. [V v-ing] ⇒ ...a garden that needs tidying. [V to-inf] ⇒ The taste of vitamins is not too nice so the flavour sometimes needs to be disguised. 3. singular noun [N to-inf] If there is a need for something, that thing would improve a situation or something cannot happen without it. [+ for] ⇒ Mr Forrest believes there is a need for other similar schools throughout Britain. [+ for] ⇒ 'I think we should see a specialist.'—'I don't think there's any need for that.' [+ for] ⇒ There's no need for you to stay. 4. modal verb [with neg] If you say that someone needn't do something, you are telling them not to do it, or advising or suggesting that they should not do it. ⇒ 'I'll put the key in the window.'—'You needn't bother,' he said gruffly. ⇒ Look, you needn't shout. ⇒ She need not know I'm here. Need is also a verb. [V to-inf] ⇒ Well, for Heaven's sake, you don't need to apologize. [V to-inf] ⇒ Come along, Mother, we don't need to take up any more of Mr Kemp's time. 5. modal verb If you tell someone that they needn't do something, or that something needn't happen, you are telling them that that thing is not necessary, in order to make them feel better. ⇒ You needn't worry. ⇒ This needn't take long, Simon. ⇒ Buying budget-priced furniture needn't mean compromising on quality or style. ⇒ Loneliness can be horrible, but it need not remain that way. ⇒ He need never drink again if he doesn't want to. 6. verb [no cont, with neg]
Need is also a verb. [V to-inf] ⇒ He replied, with a reassuring smile, 'Oh, you don't need to worry about them.' [V to-inf] ⇒ You don't need to be a millionaire to consider having a bank account in Switzerland.
7. modal verb [with neg] You use needn't when you are giving someone permission not to do something. ⇒ You needn't come again, if you don't want to. ⇒ Well, you needn't tell me anything if you don't want to.
Need is also a verb. [V to-inf] ⇒ You don't need to wait for me. [V to-inf] ⇒ Mommy, you don't need to stay while we talk.
8. modal verb [with neg] If something need not be true, it is not necessarily true or not always true. [formal] ⇒ What is right for us need not be right for others. ⇒ Freedom need not mean independence. 9. modal verb [with neg] If someone needn't have done something, it was not necessary or useful for them to do it, although they did it. ⇒ She could have made the sandwich herself; her mum needn't have bothered to do anything. ⇒ I was a little nervous when I announced my engagement to Grace, but I needn't have worried. ⇒ We spent a hell of a lot of money that we needn't have spent.
If someone didn't need to do something, they needn't have done it. [V to-inf] ⇒ You didn't need to give me any more money you know, but thank you.
10. modal verb You use need in expressions such as I need hardly say and I needn't add to emphasize that the person you are talking to already knows what you are going to say. [emphasis] ⇒ I needn't add that if you fail to do as I ask, you will suffer the consequences.
Need is also a verb. [V to-inf] ⇒ I hardly need to say that I have never lost contact with him.
11. modal verb You can use need in expressions such as 'Need I say more' and 'Need I go on' when you want to avoid stating an obvious consequence of something you have just said. ⇒ Mid-fifties, short black hair, grey moustache, distinctive Russian accent. Need I go on?
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