Need Not [Verb]

How to use the expression "need not" correctly

This is an entry on my list of Common Errors in English Usage. Visit the main page for direct links to additional entries.

Need not [verb] = “don’t need to [verb]”

This expression isn’t familiar to many younger English speakers, but it is an idiomatic expression that is perfectly acceptable (though old-fashioned). It is often used in contracted form: needn’tNeed does not change form to agree with the subject, and the verb following not is always an infinitive without to.

You needn’t worry about it; I’ve already taken care of it. = You don’t need to worry about it; I’ve already taken care of it.

Tell her she needs need not bother going to the store; we already have what we need.

This same usage of need occurs in questions without to do:

Need I worry? = Do I need to worry?

Related Resources

Common Errors in English Usage: Errors in diction and idiom commonly made by native speakers of English

List of Common Errors in English Usage (PDF): Printable version of the complete list

Common Grammar Errors: A list of common errors in grammar (topics like subject-verb agreement and parallelism) as distinct from usage

List of Common Errors in English Usage: PDF version

© 2006, 2008, and 2019 C. Brantley Collins, Jr.