1. Alida had need of company.
  2. Alida needed company.

Please say what are the differences between these two sentences.

2 Answers 2


He has need of a new coat (Collins).

I think you can say the following, without any difference in meaning:

Alida had need of company.

Alida needed company.

Alida was in need of company.

However, the use of the phrase "has/have/had need of" isn't common in use. It seems to be formal or old-fashioned.

  • 1
    Strictly speaking, without any difference in meaning is "correct" at the level of semantics. But as @Zessa points out, it's not used very often in everyday speaking (I'd go so far as to say almost never, except facetiously mocking archaic/ultra-formal delivery). Learners shouldn't therefore be encouraged to see the two constructions as "equivalent". Nov 24, 2015 at 15:49
  • FumbleFinger, Thanks for your valued comments. I have edited my answer accordingly.
    – Khan
    Nov 24, 2015 at 17:26
  • Yes, I agree @FumbleFingers, learners should be familiar with it, as it will show up, but not worry about it too much. Sherock Holmes novels and movies come to mind.
    – Zessa
    Nov 24, 2015 at 17:32
  • @Zessa: Bear in mind that much of the dialogue in Sherlock Holmes would have been considered dated/formal (if not archaic) even at the time of writing. If your interest is in learning how English was used a century or two ago then by all means familiarise yourself with this particular usage, But there must surely be a chance you'll forget which usages are current and which aren't (and which ones don't even reflect any current syntax). So you'll end up asking your Anglophone customer What is your need? for example. Me, I wouldn't want to risk it. Nov 24, 2015 at 18:34

There is no real difference between the two phrases. "X needs Y" or "X has need of Y" mean the same thing.

"X has need of Y" is a pretty formal construction. You'll come across it in older writings and novels. You'll also find it in legal documents. From my experience, it's not used very often in everyday speaking except when someone is trying to be overly formal for humor.

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