This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.
Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

You are in: Learning English > The Flatmates
Learning English - The Flatmates
The Flatmates
Language Point
Navigation spacer Navigation spacer  
Archive Language Point 121

Language Point logo

Need to and Needs-ing

Alice watching children riding ponies
We use 'need' to talk about things we think are necessary to do. We can use two different structures - need / needs to and need / needs -ing

Need to

We use this form when we want to talk about something that's necessary for someone to do. We usually mention who is going to do it. For example: "I need to go to the dentist" means "It's necessary for me to visit the dentist".

We form this structure with:

subject need or needs to verb
Ellie needs to practise
Alice needs to wear a uniform
They need to go shopping
We need to post the letters

We form the negative with:

subject don't or doesn't need to verb
Paul doesn't need to take Ellie riding
She doesn't need to drive
We don't need to pay to go to the park
They don't need to buy a present

Need -ing

We can use this form when we want to talk about something that is necessary for someone to do. We don't have to say who is going to do it. For example, when the instructor said "Dusty needs untacking" she meant "The horse needs to be untacked by you, Ellie".

This is a passive structure where the usual subject + verb + object form changes to object + need + verb+ing.

We form this structure with:

object need or needs verb+ing
The horse needs untacking
The house needs tidying
The stables need mucking out
These letters need posting

We form the negative with:

object don't or doesn't need verb + ing
The car doesn't need washing
The plant doesn't need watering
The stables don't need painting
The horses don't need feeding


halt (formal)

get off something you ride (for example, a horse or a bike)

enough of the love-fest (informal, here used sarcastically)
stop being so loving to each other

untack (specialised horse vocabulary)
take off the saddle and other pieces equipment that are used for riding a horse

a stable
a building where horses are kept

mucking out (specialised animal vocabulary)
cleaning out the horse stables


Most Recent

Last 3 episodes


Last 3 language points


Last 3 quizzes


What's next?

What's next logoThe quiz

Go back

Go back logoThe episode