I have a question regarding this explanation below. Can I use "needn't have done" and "didn't have to" instead of "didn't need to"?

But we also use didn't need to to say that something was not necessary under circumstances where it was not done:

The sun came out so we didn't need to take any rainwear on the trip.

We had plenty of petrol in the tank so I didn't need to fill up.

We didn't need to wait for long for them. They arrived just after us.

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Needn't have done implies that you did make a plan or take a precaution which turned out to be unnecessary.

The weather forecast was good so we didn't need to take any rainwear.

The weather was unexpectedly good so we needn't have taken our rainwear.

  • So "needn't have done" can't be used instead of "didn't need to" if it was done. Right? But do native speakers use "didn't have to" in that context if it wasn't done? Instead of "needn't have done. Jan 13 at 15:42
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    Didn't have to and didn't need to both mean 'didn't do it because it wasn't necessary'. Jan 13 at 16:01
  • so not all native speakers use in different contexts and think they mean different things. For example, didn't have to is used to refer to obligation, didn't need to is used to talk about a necessity. I can find the examples in my book and share them if it is necessary for the context. Jan 13 at 16:10
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    I can't imagine that any native speaker would 'think they mean different things' (though some people use English very strangely these days!). Jan 13 at 17:38
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    Sorry - I meant that didn't have to and didn't need to mean the same in this particular context. Didn't have to can also mean was not obliged/made to. The ancient Greek athletes were not made to take drugs tests. But, yes, you can say we didn't have to take rainwear or I didn't have to fill up. Jan 14 at 9:14

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