"needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

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"needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby AKADriver » Thu Dec 13, 2007 4:51 pm UTC

In the past few years, I've heard people dropping the auxiliary verb in phrases like that increasingly often. When I lived in NY I only saw it in written form, but now that I live in Virginia I hear it spoken that way frequently. It's only in that sort of present-progressive passive clause that they do it.

Where the heck did that come from? It's like nails on a chalkboard to me.

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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby Belial » Thu Dec 13, 2007 4:57 pm UTC

It's a southern thing. Just kindof a lazy contraction.
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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby Kizyr » Thu Dec 13, 2007 6:52 pm UTC

I usually say "needs fixin" if that's what I'm getting at.

Though if that irritates you, you might not want to hear me speaking for a long period of time. If it's a casual setting then I sometimes drop into a lot of Southern contractions, including "might should", "ain't nothin'", double-negatives, etc. If "needs fixed" was part of it, that'd be in there too, but I prefer "needs fixin'", since it's about as short and less ambiguous. KF
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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby AKADriver » Thu Dec 13, 2007 8:58 pm UTC

"Needs fixing" is proper English in any context, though. "Needs fixed" is either missing two words or a horrible disagreement between the tenses of the verbs.

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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby Number3Pencils » Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:16 pm UTC

I can't rationally or linguistically justify my use of it, but I still use it. It saves time, I guess. And sounds more casual. I think it's actually a pretty neat construction.
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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby Belial » Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:30 pm UTC

AKADriver wrote:"Needs fixing" is proper English in any context, though. "Needs fixed" is either missing two words or a horrible disagreement between the tenses of the verbs.


Considering that, depending on what part of speech you're considering "fixed" to be, it's either two verbs right next to each other or a transitive verb leading into a dangling adjective, there's really no way to change the tenses of any of the verbs to make the sentence right without adding words.
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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby Flying Betty » Fri Dec 14, 2007 1:21 am UTC

The explanation I've heard about that, mainly because I only ever really heard this construction in central PA, is that it's a Pennsylvania Dutch hold over from a German grammar construct. Knowing nothing about German, I certainly wouldn't vouch for the truthfulness of that theory, but it's a fun one.

So yeah, more regional US English variation. These things are popping up all over the place! (Please don't start a thread about "soda" vs "pop" next)
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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby liza » Fri Dec 14, 2007 1:43 am UTC

Well, I'm going to blow that theory. I hear it a lot out here, so it's not Southern or Dutch. I think I hear it most often from the Amerindians, in fact. Go figure.
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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby Flying Betty » Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:21 am UTC

I figured it was utterly bullshit, but if you can't post wildly unverified theories on the Internet, where can you?
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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby lowbart » Fri Dec 14, 2007 1:13 pm UTC

Before reading the thread I thought it sounded like one of those weird things they do in British English, like "try and do this" instead of "try to do", or leaving off certain kinds of puntuation that seem essential to an American English speaker. I mostly come across these things by reading BBC to get most of my news.

Now that I know it's a Southern thing I can treat it with the appropriate amount of disdain and irritation. :D

I guess you get stuff like this in Jersey sometimes - when someone is talking really fast, they will often drop one preposition when they come in a pair. ("Why don't you come over to my house" -> "Why done you come over my house") But it still sounds foreign instead of just Southern.
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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby Ari » Sat Dec 15, 2007 7:19 am UTC

Flying Betty wrote:I figured it was utterly bullshit, but if you can't post wildly unverified theories on the Internet, where can you?


Well, it's certainly not totally BS. Some southernisms are English that's been influenced by German grammar. (I think the way Texans use "would" is a good example) It's just that in this case it seems to be incorrect, especially seeing I can't think of any similar German phrase. :)
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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby Julie » Mon Dec 24, 2007 12:19 am UTC

I live in south-central Pennsylvania, where German was spoken until the early 1800's. I believe our town newspaper was written in German until the 1820's. In any case, I hear it a lot around here, especially among older people (who may have had grandparents whose first language was German).

Awhile also comes from German, I think... if you've ever even heard of that "word". In context, a waitress might say to you, "can I get your drinks awhile you pick your dinners?". I'm not sure I've ever heard it used by someone who wasn't born here.

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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Dec 24, 2007 2:32 am UTC

Julie wrote:Awhile also comes from German, I think... if you've ever even heard of that "word".

We've all heard that word, I'm sure, though perhaps not in the context you quoted, so much as in the context of contracting 'a' and 'while' into one word. :-)

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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby Ari » Mon Dec 24, 2007 6:53 am UTC

Julie wrote:I live in south-central Pennsylvania, where German was spoken until the early 1800's. I believe our town newspaper was written in German until the 1820's. In any case, I hear it a lot around here, especially among older people (who may have had grandparents whose first language was German).

Awhile also comes from German, I think... if you've ever even heard of that "word". In context, a waitress might say to you, "can I get your drinks awhile you pick your dinners?". I'm not sure I've ever heard it used by someone who wasn't born here.


Well, German does use words in a similar way to that, but nothing that translates to awhile. Usually it's "mal" (roughly translated as "(for) once") or "schon" ("now"/"already") or "also". ("well (then)")
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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby ATCG » Mon Dec 24, 2007 8:31 am UTC

That construction is classic "Pittsburghese". At least one school of thought attributes a Scots-Irish origin. Take a look at both the second paragraph and the third bullet under "Grammar" in Pittsburgh English.
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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby Gelsamel » Sun Dec 30, 2007 1:09 am UTC

I have not heard "needs fixed" before, and I'm glad I have not because it sounds retarded.
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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby Kewangji » Sun Dec 30, 2007 3:14 am UTC

While grammar is nice and all, slang is funnier and if it's understandable it's usually not retarded. Needs fixed or needs eaten, or whatever else, sounds fine to me.
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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby antonfire » Sun Dec 30, 2007 9:08 am UTC

Where did it come from? People realized that they were wasting their time saying something that doesn't need to be there. Changing language often sounds a bit grating, and language is always changing.

It seems pretty valid to me, linguistically. Then again, anything that people actually do is "valid" linguistically. To give an example of something similar, though, in Russian it's standard to drop the word "to be" unless you really need it.
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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby Ari » Sun Dec 30, 2007 10:36 pm UTC

antonfire wrote:Where did it come from? People realized that they were wasting their time saying something that doesn't need to be there. Changing language often sounds a bit grating, and language is always changing.

It seems pretty valid to me, linguistically. Then again, anything that people actually do is "valid" linguistically. To give an example of something similar, though, in Russian it's standard to drop the word "to be" unless you really need it.


Being "valid" doesn't stop it from being jarring, which is usually what causes people to object to regional variations in a different or wider setting.
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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby Nimz » Wed Jan 02, 2008 10:51 pm UTC

I have no problem with the phrase "needs fixed" but I would attribute quite a different meaning if that was the entire sentence. I would take "needs" to be a noun instead of a verb. So "Needs fixed." to me sounds like whatever needs there were, they have been met. That's in stark contrast to the meaning implied by the OP, where there is a need (of fixing) that has NOT been met. I also get a slightly different meaning from adding "it" in the middle (as in, "he needs it fixed"): if it isn't fixed, it needs to be fixed, but if it is already fixed, it's okay as is. So to me, adding "it" puts the phrase almost in a half-and-half zone.
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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby lowbart » Thu Jan 03, 2008 5:51 pm UTC

I found something that suggests this pattern comes from Scottish English, which would make sense since the ancestry of whites in the South is primarily Scots-Irish.

(emphasis mine)
Wikipedia - Scottish English wrote:Idiom

In colloquial speech shall and ought are wanting, must is marginal for obligation and may is rare. Many syntactical features of SSE are found in other forms of English, e.g. English English and North American English:

* It's your shot. for "It's your turn."
* My hair is needing washed. or My hair needs washed for "My hair needs washing."
* Amn't I invited? for "Am I not invited?"
* How not? for "Why not?"
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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby bigglesworth » Thu Jan 03, 2008 6:28 pm UTC

Needs fixed sounds like the opposite of needs adjusted (the practice of varying price of something according to income)
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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby Sioux » Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:43 am UTC

Hi guys, I'm a British English teacher and I can tell you the following; if something is not working PROPERLY but it is still usable, then we ought to say "it needs fixing". On the other hand, if something is not working AT ALL, then we ought to say "it needs to be fixed". Hope this is of help. Thank you all. Best regards!

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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby Eugo » Thu Dec 13, 2012 9:17 pm UTC

lowbart wrote:Before reading the thread I thought it sounded like one of those weird things they do in British English, like "try and do this" instead of "try to do".

I just love that one. My typical response, if I don't think I'll be shot on the spot, is "alright, but may I do this first and try later?".
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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby Aiwendil » Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:11 pm UTC

lowbar wrote:Before reading the thread I thought it sounded like one of those weird things they do in British English, like "try and do this" instead of "try to do".


Wait, is that a British thing? I feel like I've heard that all my life here in the northeastern U.S.

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Re: "needs fixed" vs. "needs to be fixed"

Postby Derek » Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:13 am UTC

I say "try and X" and I'm from North Carolina.


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