Can both sentences be used?

  1. I need a bed to sleep in.

  2. I need a bed to sleep.


2 Answers 2


I need a bed to sleep in.

You're looking for lodgings or a place to spend the night.

I need a bed to sleep.

You don't sleep very well on the floor, or on a cot or sofa; you require the comfort of a bed.

I need some music to fall asleep by.
I need some music to fall asleep.

I need a pen to write with.
I need a pen to write.

P.S. Phrases following this pattern, with the preposition at the end, are parsed as noun phrases, with the infinitive-phrase complementing the noun at the head:

  • words to live by ... words by which to live aka words for living | living words

  • shoes to run in ... shoes in which to run aka shoes for running |running shoes

  • light to read by... light by which to read aka light for reading | reading light

So that noun-phrase becomes the {direct object} of "need":

I need {shoes to run in}.
I need {shoes in which to run}.

On the other hand, phrases in this pattern:

  • a bed to sleep

  • a pen to write

  • music to fall asleep

the to-infinitive chunk functions like a so-called "zero"-conditional clause:

I need a bed to sleep = To sleep, I need a bed. If I want to sleep...

I need a pen to write = To write, I need a pen. If I want to write...

I need music to fall asleep = To fall asleep, I need music. If I want to fall asleep...


TRomano put it well. Both are acceptable in my mind, although the connotation is different. You may wish to bear in mind that a lot of teachers will take exception to ending a sentence in a preposition. This is one of those arbitrary no-no's that English writing and language teachers love.

However, I would simply say "I need a bed." It will be presumed you need to sleep. Otherwise the subject would be "we" and really, you wouldn't really be obliged to tell people why the bed was needed.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .