To Be, Damn It, To Be!

Of all the misuses of the English language, this one is my pet peeve:

“The dishes need washed.”
“The car needs fixed.”

This may be a phenomenon of the Midwestern United States. I’ve seldom heard folks from other parts of the U.S. or other parts of the English speaking world use it.

The mistake probably began by confusing a gerund – a form derived from a verb and functioning as a noun – with the past tense of a verb. But don’t worry about all the grammatical jargon. Just keep in mind that it is correct to say, “The dishes need washing,” or, “The car needs fixing.”

However it is not correct to say, “The dishes need washed,” or, “The car needs fixed.” When using that approach, one must include “to be” to make the sentence viable: “The dishes need to be washed.” “The car needs to be fixed.” Omitting those two important words is not only incorrect, it’s an assault on the ears of most linguaphiles.*


*Linguaphile: A person who loves languages and words. NOT to be confused with a person who loves linguine.

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