Longman:" Verb patterns You can say that you need to do something • I need to clean (NOT I need clean) the house".

As we normally use this pattern need +verb about non-affirmative structures and in accordance with the explanations above, would you tell me if I have written the following correctly?

I only need clean the house.

I need clean only the house.

I need only clean the house.

If I need clean the house...

  • 1
    You forgot the to particle. Aug 6 '14 at 6:26
  • 2
    @CopperKettle The fact OP mentions "non affirmative structures" makes me wonder - but I might be wrong - if they do not confuse the use of need as a modal and its use as a verb. So maybe the omission of "to" would be intentional.
    – None
    Aug 6 '14 at 8:55

I am not sure I interpreted the question correctly. If I didn't please rephrase your question or ask questions.

Need can be either a verb or as a modal.

When it is used as a verb it expresses that something is to be done and it is followed by either the full infinitive:

I only need to clean the house (and then I'm done).
I need to clean only the house (and not the shed).
I need only to clean the house (and then I'm done).

The house needs cleaning.(Meaning "the house needs to be cleaned")

It is only when used as a modal that we do not have the full infinitive after "need". It is synonym of "must" or "have to" when used as a modal.

I needn't clean the house, I did it yesterday.
Need I really clean the house, can't it wait till tomorrow?

And "need" would not be used as a modal in affirmative sentences:

I have to clean the house, it's filthy.
I need to clean the house, it's filthy.

I can't go with you, I have to clean the house.
I can't go with you, I need to clean the house.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.