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"It needs to be made" is familiar, but "it needs be made" never heard of until a moment ago, and that's when @j-r wrote it in a comment. Is it standard or dialect, and if it's standard, is it informal?

J.R.'s snippet

  • " The overall thrust of this answer might have a little bit of merit, but it needs be made much less dogmatic to be accurate and helpful."

quotes from COCA

  • 2004-ACAD-TheologStud "...of the first spouse from the pagan marriage? The pope ruled that no inquiry need be made into the willingness of the pagan spouse to stay in the marriage,..."

  • 1999-FIC-ChicagoRev "...aren't too exuberant, but rather show moderation in your conduct, no objections need be made to your wishes, " was the reply, and so the Robber..."

  • 1993-SPOK-NPR_ATC "...tattoos on their skin or otherwise. It's not something that one would think need be made public to everyone around them. But what if he, for example..."

Update: need as a modal verb

Needn't = A short form of need not

-You needn't do the washing up.
-We needn't take coats with us.
-Tom needn't come if he doesn't want to.
-Diabetes needn't mean you can't enjoy your food.
-We needn't tidy up until tomorrow.

From Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary 3rd ed.

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    Grammar Girl talked about Needs washed once. You might be intereste: quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/needs-washed Commented Jan 2, 2014 at 19:05
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    When 'need' is used as an axillary verb or modal, it does not require 's' at the end of it. So, when someone adds 's' to need, it has to be informal or dialect.
    – JayHook
    Commented Jan 2, 2014 at 19:06

1 Answer 1

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"Needs be made", in the context of your first quote, is just wrong, and most likely a typo in the comment. You're right, it should be "needs to be made".

However, "need be made" in the other three quotes is correct, albeit more formal and fairly rarely heard. Depending on the context, it can be equivalent to "needs to be made", "needed to be made" or "need to be made". In fact, it can probably cover any tense of "to need", and is something that the vast majority of people will be fine with just understanding it when it's used and not using it themselves.

Hope it helps :)

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  • I remember that need could be a modal verb, but that comment confused me. I'll put up some examples of using needn't from Cambridge's
    – learner
    Commented Jan 2, 2014 at 19:30
  • For the purposes of learning english, your first paragraph can be forgiven, but it must needs be said that it is more properly called "archaic" than wrong. ( english.stackexchange.com/questions/34788/… thefreedictionary.com/must+needs+do etc. )
    – horatio
    Commented Jan 2, 2014 at 22:05
  • @horatio in your example, "needs" is an adverb, whereas here it is a verb. There are no cases (correct me if I'm wrong) where "needs be made" is correct where needs is a verb. I wrote that first paragraph assuming that "to need" was always assumed to be a verb, as English is such a diverse language that there are nearly always ways to make something sound right if you change it round enough! Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 0:59
  • Need, like dare, has some peculiarities in English, as explained here and here and here. Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 1:59

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