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For instance,when I say “the bear cubs need to be protected”,can I also say “need protecting” instead of "need to be protected"?

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    This is a good question. I'd certainly prefer protection noun instead of protecting. But I observe that protecting is also used in such construction.
    – Maulik V
    Dec 19 '14 at 6:03
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    I guess you're trying to find out if there are any nuances of difference in meaning between those two forms of passive (concealed passive vs infinitival passive). That seems to be an interesting question. :)
    – F.E.
    Dec 19 '14 at 18:51
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    @F.E That's exactly what I mean. I think there are delicate nuances between the two.
    – dennylv
    Dec 22 '14 at 2:07
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The bear cubs need to be protected.

The bear cubs need protecting.

The bear cubs need protection.

They all are correct sentence, and bear the same meaning. But the form need protecting is less used than the other two forms.

The verb - need - has this construction. Need + verb-ing + something.

For example -

These trees need watering.

I hope I have answered your question.

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  • +1, though I think it's technically possible to draw distinctions in meaning between these sentences, so there's probably room for someone to add another answer.
    – user230
    Dec 19 '14 at 14:21
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    @snailboat I think they are very slight difference. I think "needs to be protected" adds something more that the other two sentences doesn't. And that is the information that the protection has to be provided by someone else :) Please let us know the differences. Thank you. Dec 19 '14 at 14:24

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