8

According to the title of this question...

Who needs a dragons

Is it "a dragons" or just "dragons"?

And "need" or "needs"?

19

A [plural]

Is never correct in any sentence, so the correct sentence is:

Who needs dragons?

Which means 'Dragons aren't very useful', or:

Who needs a dragon?

Which means 'Why would anyone want to own a dragon (as a pet)?'

The reason it's "Who needs..." and not "Who need..." is because of how this verb conjugates:

"I/You/We/They need", and "He/She/Who needs".

  • 18
    Or possibly, “Does anyone happen to be in need of a dragon? ’Cause I’ve got a spare one here I don’t really know what to do with …” (Presumably a scenario most commonly occurring to friends of Rubeus Hagrid.) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jan 27 '15 at 12:27
  • @JanusBahsJacquet - Very good point, well raised. – Mark Jan 27 '15 at 12:30
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    @JanusBahsJacquet That line is fairly common in Clash of Clans chat... – Jason Patterson Jan 27 '15 at 12:41
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    @δοῦλος: I'm just pointing out that English is a rather weird language and tends to break any rules you try to put on it. – Kevin Jan 27 '15 at 16:59
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    @JanusBahsJacquet Exactly. Context is everything. If I hand out questionnaires and say, "Who needs a pen?" I'm not by any means suggesting that pens are superfluous in this situation (though if one of the respondents responded to my offer with, "Who needs a pen?!" and proceeded to burn her survey responses into the paper with her fiery gaze, she would be). – starsplusplus Jan 28 '15 at 11:28
6

It can be correct, if "dragons" is used as a name. You might be playing a card game that includes a "dragons" card: the ownership of such a card might confer magical strength, and the card could be referred to as "a Dragons".

"Who wants to trade a dragons for an invisibility?"

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    Note that this is a very uncommon situation. – Mark Jan 27 '15 at 22:39
  • @Mark in the US there is a program on public radio called "all things considered", and they announce it as "this is all things considered". Clearly, "all things" is plural but when used as the name of the program it takes the singular. I hear it on the radio every day... And my inner syntax checker always raises a flag. – Floris Jan 27 '15 at 22:50
  • In a case like this, it's basically a title, and you would specially format it, capitalize it or put it in quotes, e.g. "I listen to All Things Considered every day" or "Who wants to trade a 'Dragons' for an 'Invisibility'?" – pimlottc Jan 28 '15 at 1:36
  • @pimlottc that is true when it's written - I deliberately did not write it that way because, when you hear the spoken word, the formatting is not evident. – Floris Jan 28 '15 at 3:57
4

At the risk of being pedantic, there is a possibility by which it could be (almost) correct. If the phrase 'Who needs a dragons?' is only part of a longer sentence then maybe it's correct but just missing an apostrophe.

You could correctly construct for example:

"Who needs a dragon's heart?"

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    If it's in the right context, it wouldn't even need to be part of a longer sentence. "I've got hearts for sale! Who needs a dragon's?" – BenM Jan 28 '15 at 3:11
0

"a" or "an" basically means "one". "Dragons" is the plural of dragon — meaning more than one dragon — so you can't have "one dragons". This can be extended to other nouns (things). You can need "an apple" but not "an apples".

"Need" and "needs" are verbs (actions or states of being). Verbs must agree with their subjects — the things that are doing the action or being.

Singular:

He needs a dragon.
He needs dragons.

Notice how the verb is the same no matter how many dragons are being discussed, because the verb only cares about the singular "he".

Plural:

They need a dragon.
They need dragons.

In your example, "who" can refer to any number of people, so it is plural and uses "need".

Who needs a dragon?
Who needs dragons?

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