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I am providing you with food, shelter, clothes.

What more do you need

or

what else do you need?

Which one's correct?

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5 Answers 5

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Both more and else are syntactically fine in OP's example, and in many contexts they'll mean exactly the same thing.

But note that idiomatically, What more do you need? is far more likely when what's being asked is effectively a rhetorical question (implying the speaker thinks you either don't or shouldn't need anything else).

Also note that when using else, to some extent the distinction between a rhetorical question and a genuine enquiry can be made more explicit by stress/emphasis...

1: What else do you need? (Probably: You don't need anything else - just get on with it)
2: What else do you need? (Probably: If you need anything else please tell me)

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    I agree a lot with this answer, but personally I'd have put the emphasis in (1) on do, and in (2) pretty neutral, but if anywhere actually on else. That I read this so differently from FumbleFingers suggests it's maybe quite regional (as stress can obviously be).
    – OJFord
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 20:43
  • @Ollie Ford: Well, I did "hedge" with to some extent. To my mind, stressing else (or more - it would be just the same) is more likely if the speaker really is asking a rhetorical question (to which no answer is expected - he's effectively saying That's your lot! Get on with it!). Stressing do would also express exasperation, but probably implying that the speaker does expect an actual response (but whatever the addressee says he still needs, speaker thinks it's unnecessary). There's plenty of scope for different people to say (or understand) things differently though. Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 22:54
  • What more do you need can be rhetorical, but it isn't necessarily so at all.
    – Lambie
    Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 17:21
  • I'd say What more do you need? is nearly always rhetorical, though that particular phrasing is nowhere near as common as What more could you want? For the genuine enquiry, I think we're more likely to ask What else do you need/want? Commented Sep 30, 2021 at 17:31
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In the context you have given, can mean different things.

What more do you need?

Can be taken as for example - "Isn't what is given enough? What else possibly could you need" implying that what is given should suffice.

What else do you need?

Can be taken as for example - "What are the other necessities that I can provide to you? What other requirements do you have?"

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    Generally, I'd say "What more do you need" is bordering on rude. You can't have "more" without already having something, so it's implied that the person asking the question has already given you something, and you still aren't satisfied. "What else do you need" is more neutral - "else" can be understood as "in addition", so the person is asking if you're satisfied, or if there's anything else to give. Using "more" could imply that you "should" be satisfied/have everything you need.
    – BruceWayne
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 19:21
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You can say : What more do you need? (When you are really vexed up with that one)

You can say : What else do you need? (when you were really happy to help him, and you were asking do you need something more(Soft Tone) )

As far as I known.

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Both are acceptable but my personal opinion when you say "what more do you need" it sounds as if you provided more help than they need so there is a connotation that you think they don't need something anymore whereas "what else do you need" sounds neutral that you don't know their needs even if you provided some help before.

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They both work but are slightly different. else means; In addition, besides, or different and instead.

What else (different, besides, or instead of) do you want?

more means; A greater or additional amount or degree.

What more (A greater amount, or in addition to) do you want?

So the main difference is that else, in general means different. And more, generally means A greater amount or In addition to.

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    I think this distinction is clutching at straws. In practice I don't see how it could ever make any difference with OP's example. Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 16:54
  • I think this is accurate -- if I claim to have provided you your basic needs, and I ask "What else do you need?" and you answered "More food", that would be a kind of snarky-ish answer, calling in to question the premise that I did in fact provide for your needs. "What else" in that case would mean "What other (kinds of) needs do you have that I haven't met?"
    – user151841
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 19:16
  • Another way of explaining it is that "what else" asks about things that the person does not have yet: You have a knife and a fork, what else do you want? - I want a spoon; while "more" may include things that the person already has (at least to some extent): You have such a good job, what more do you want? - I want more free time. This distinction is not always made; sometimes it is not clear-cut, as the person answering may be asked about "what else" and may want more of something, or vice versa. Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 17:03

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