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Leaving "to be" out of sentences - please explain this to me?


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The "grammAr" thread reminded me of something I see quite often on another board that always leaves me baffled.

 

The phrasing goes like this:

 

"My car needs fixed."

"These books need sold"

 

I see this ALL. THE. TIME. Why is "to be" left out of these sentences? Is it a regional or urban/rural thing? Is it catching on, in say the same way that "I love me some ____" has caught on?

 

Please explain so that I can sleep tonight. ;)

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I am really old and this was really a long time ago but I seem to recall learning in elementary school something about there being seven forms of "to be" and we were supposed to learn to write without using any of these forms. The memory is very faint but I do remember that I didn't understand why even then. :confused:

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It is common for people to speak like that here in Oklahoma. When I moved to the East coast, people would tease me about it and I quickly modified my speech. I have never picked it back up but I have noticed it is still alive and well in this part of the country.

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My parents always phrase sentences this way, and they're from Western PA. I don't know if there's a connection.

 

I'm from western MD (a couple miles from the PA line), and I thought the op's example sentences were correct. I no longer live in western MD and I have a reputation in real life for being a grammar queen, so there ya go. :D

Edited by LizzyBee
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I am really old and this was really a long time ago but I seem to recall learning in elementary school something about there being seven forms of "to be" and we were supposed to learn to write without using any of these forms. The memory is very faint but I do remember that I didn't understand why even then. :confused:

 

 

I remember this too! I still think of it when I am writing just about anything.

 

Lesley

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I always thought it was a PA thing, since the only people I know who do it are from there.

 

 

YES YES YES!! We call it the 'Pennsyltucky tell.' It seems to be prominent in Western PA, eastern OH, Northern West Virginia, some in Kentucky. It might be elsewhere, but I've no 'first ear experience anywhere else.':001_smile:

 

I love regional accents and colloquialisms...so much fun to guess where people might be from. I used to be able to almost tell what county of NJ someone was from, by the way they talked.

 

I've been to 38 states in US, lived in 4, and I've only heard this here ALL THE TIME, even among business executives and teachers/doctors, level of education doesn't seem to matter!! I've even seen it written that way in technical documents at work!

 

I was blown away by it 13 yrs ago when we relocated to this area...now we're used to hearing it, but ABSOLUTELY FORBID it among our own DCs. To us it is like the word 'ain't.' Maybe we're snobs???

 

So funny to hear that brought up...here they also say 'aarn' instead of 'iron.' I love that!

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The "grammAr" thread reminded me of something I see quite often on another board that always leaves me baffled.

 

The phrasing goes like this:

 

"My car needs fixed."

"These books need sold"

 

I see this ALL. THE. TIME. Why is "to be" left out of these sentences? Is it a regional or urban/rural thing? Is it catching on, in say the same way that "I love me some ____" has caught on?

 

Please explain so that I can sleep tonight. ;)

 

I have NEVER in my life heard this.....

 

Robin in NJ

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I didn't find out this was wrong until my junior year in high school. I thought the friend who told me this was pulling my leg until I looked it up. I grew up in Pittsburgh and I had never heard 'need TO BE xxxx'. It's still deeply ingrained in my speech along with yinz/younz as the plural of you.

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The first example sounds OK to me - "the car needs fixed". I probably wouldn't say it, but I'm sure I've heard it. I'm from southern NJ, and my dad is from OH.

 

But "these books need sold"? That's odd.

 

I wonder if it comes from PA Dutch, because in German the infinitive "to be" would be at the end, so it would be easier to leave it out and not sound strange.

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The first time I'd heard this kind of phrasing is from my freshman year college roommate. She was from MD.

 

Cinder

 

I grew up in MD, and did not know anyone who talked like that. Everyone I knew said "The car needs TO BE fixed", not "The car needs fixed". IF they did, they'd be looked at oddly.

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The first example sounds OK to me - "the car needs fixed". I probably wouldn't say it, but I'm sure I've heard it. I'm from southern NJ, and my dad is from OH.

 

But "these books need sold"? That's odd.

 

I wonder if it comes from PA Dutch, because in German the infinitive "to be" would be at the end, so it would be easier to leave it out and not sound strange.

:iagree: "The car needs fixed." sounds perfectly okay to me. I've family close in PA and OH so I'm sure I've heard something similar before. I wouldn't bet that I've never said it or something similar before.

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I grew up in MD, and did not know anyone who talked like that. Everyone I knew said "The car needs TO BE fixed", not "The car needs fixed". IF they did, they'd be looked at oddly.

 

Hmm . . . my roommate was from Hagerstown, so maybe it's the PA influence that some have already mentioned. :shrug:

 

Cinder

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I'm curious now. It doesn't sound very strange to me, though I'm pretty sure I use "to be".

 

The bills need paid.

The kids need picked up.

The carpet needs cleaned.

 

I see it, but I don't know that I hear it.

 

Wow - do I do this?? I'm going to be examining my speech carefully for a few days.:lol:

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Hey! Just noticed you're due yesterday! How are you feeling?:001_smile:

 

Hey, thanks for noticing. I'm feeling pretty good. I'm lucky to have really easy pregnancies. Still waiting, though, and because I'm trying for a VBAC, I'm hoping to not have to be induced or anything. The doctor says she will probably be a week or more late, so I might have a while yet.

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Or what about if you said "The car needs fixing" ? That's pretty similar, and maybe it's become fixed instead of fixing.

 

I think it's a bastardization of "needs fixing," which is grammatically correct (I believe) and "to be fixed." DH, an extremely intelligent man who has completed NanoNoWriMo and is very good with words, drops "to be" all the time and it drives me nuts. He's originally from rural Missouri. I cringe when our kids say it and try my darnedest to prevent them from picking it up.

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Or what about if you said "The car needs fixing" ? That's pretty similar, and maybe it's become fixed instead of fixing.

 

We were discussing this thread around the dinner table and I tried "The car needs fixing." That sounds so southern redneck to me! (Can I say that since I live in the rural south?) If I leave out to be, I would definitely use fixed instead of fixing. But now I'm really not sure which way I say it more often.

 

My dh is from Baltimore and when I asked him how he'd reword this sentence - The car needs repairs, but used fixed instead of repairs - he used to be. But he said he thinks he was taught in school that it is correct either way. I was thinking the same thing, but it's been so long since jr. high grammar that I'm not sure.

 

My 9 yo said the sentence without to be, so I'm wondering if that's how I say it more often and if she picked it up from me.

Edited by LizzyBee
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I grew up in MD, and did not know anyone who talked like that. Everyone I knew said "The car needs TO BE fixed", not "The car needs fixed". IF they did, they'd be looked at oddly.

 

But what part of MD? I grew up as far west as you can go in MD, and that area has a distinct dialect that is different from the rest of the state.

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Now, if we could just go back to using the word "invitation" instead of "invite" <---(used here as a noun) all will be well.

 

Well, almost. ;) We also need to go back to using oriented/disoriented instead of orientated/disorientated. THAT one drives me batty.

 

And yeah, I'm originally from New England, now Upper Midwest, and I have never heard of anyone dropping "to be" from their sentences. Talk about fingernails on a chalkboard.

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I think it's a regional thing. I'd never heard it until moving to WV 6 years ago. I've lived in NoVA, AZ, UT, GA. . . and had NEVER heard it.

 

Here, people say it All. The. Time. It's sort of cute, IMHO. I do it myself sometimes just b/c I kinda' like it. Obviously, it isn't proper grammar, but neither is much of what we say verbally in casual conversation.

 

ETA: I live in northern WV, only about an hour or so south of Pittsburgh, PA. . .so that's another piece of evidence for a regional thing. . .

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But what part of MD? I grew up as far west as you can go in MD, and that area has a distinct dialect that is different from the rest of the state.

 

Columbia, between Baltimore and DC.... We did not leave out "to be" in our sentences....

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