Grammar » B1+ Grammar lessons and exercises » Needn’t, don’t need to, didn’t need to, needn’t have
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  • Needn’t, don’t need to, didn’t need to, needn’t have

    Exercise 1

    Choose the correct or more likely verb forms to complete the sentences below.

    1 You wine. It wasn't necessary. But, since it's here, we'll drink it.

    2 Pensioners to use public transport. It's free.

    3 We up the pizza; we had it delivered at home.

    4 You the dishes. I'll do them later.

    5 Sixth form students a uniform.

    6 You me anything. That was kind of you.

    7 I a taxi because Sam gave us a lift.

    8 You to the shop. I've got everything I need.

    9 I an umbrella, as it didn't rain.

    10 I petrol as I had enough in the tank.


     

  • Needn’t, don’t need to, didn’t need to, needn’t have

    Needn't, don't need to, didn't need to, needn't have

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    We use the expressions needn’t, don’t need to, didn’t need to, and needn’t have to express an absence of necessity. Although each of these forms has its own function and construction, they are easily confused because they all come from the same verb.

    Need can act either as a normal verb (don’t need to do) or as a modal verb (needn’t do, needn’t have done).

    Absence of necessity in the present

    We can use needn’t + infinitive or don’t need to + infinitive to talk about the absence of necessity. The form needn’t is more common in formal language and in British English and is normally used to give someone permission NOT to do something. It is also common to use don’t need to to say the same thing.

    • You needn’t mop the floor. I’ve already done it. blank
    • You don’t need to mop the floor. I’ve already done it. blank

    However, to talk about a general absence of necessity (in general, not on one specific occasion), we normally use don’t need to rather than needn’t.

    • People don’t need to get a degree to find a good job. blank
    • People needn’t get a degree to find a good job. blank

    Absence of necessity in the past

    Although they both express an absence of necessity in the past, didn’t need to and needn’t have can have very different meanings.

    When referring to an action that happened in the past that was unnecessary, it is more common in British English to use needn’t have. Needn’t have is followed by the main verb in its past participle form. Using didn’t need to in this way is also OK.

    • You needn’t have brought dessert. blank (This form is more common in the UK.)
    • You didn’t need to bring dessert. blank

    However, when referring to an action that didn’t happen in the past, we can only use didn’t need to. Didn’t need to is always followed by an infinitive.

    • He started to feel better, so I didn’t need to call the doctor. blank
    • He started to feel better, so I needn’t have called the doctor. blank
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