At first glance, the difference between “need” and “needs” can seem pretty confusing while you’re getting the grips on English rules. Luckily, once you read through this article, you’ll start to see trends and ideas that you can use to help better remember which version should be used when.
Should I Use Need Or Needs?
Need should be used when using the subject pronouns I, you, we, they, and any plural nouns. Needs should be used when using the subject pronouns he, she, it, and any singular nouns. Using either version in any other manner with the incorrect pronouns or noun forms is incorrect grammar.
How Is “To Need” Conjugated?
The verb “to need” is an irregular verb that differs based on the subject pronouns. Unfortunately, it’s just one of those verbs you need to get used to. Once you’ve got your head around it, though, you’ll find that a lot of other irregular verbs match the same ideas, and you can use the same rules learned here for most other verbs. It is conjugated as follows:
Need Or Needs As A Noun
Both word variations are appropriate and correct as a noun, though it’s more common to refer to the plural form “needs” as a noun. In the noun form, needs are considered things necessary for a person or a thing.
- The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few
- You should consider his needs, too.
Common Mistakes Made With Need Or Needs
It’s fairly common for people to mistake when to use the “s” and keep it out. It’s made even trickier when you’re first learning the language because some verbs tell you to include the letter “s,” and some tell you to avoid it altogether. It’s just one of those things you need to get used to. Also, if you haven’t heard the verb used all that much, you might not be too familiar with which form you should use to have it work grammatically.
Is It “If Need Be” Or “If Needs Be”?
Both “if need be” and “if needs be” are correct if you want to use the saying. However, it’s important to note that in this case, “if need be” is the singular form and should only refer to one “need.” “If needs be” is the plural form and is often referring to multiple “needs” based on the context. “If need be” means that the needs will manifest themselves and make it known whether something “needs” to be completed.
Is It “Needs To Be” Or “Need To Be”?
We’ve already touched on the correct answer here above, but we’ll clarify. Both versions are correct and depend on whether the noun accompanying it is singular or plural. If the phrase noun that comes before it is singular, then “needs to be” is the correct answer. Similarly, if the subject pronouns he, she, or it are used, then “needs to be” is correct as well.
- The person needs to be registered.
- The house needs to be repainted.
- He needs to be helped.
On the flip side of that, if you’re using a plural phrase noun before the phrase, you change it to “need to be.” Also, if using the remaining subject pronouns, I, you, we, and they, you will use “need to be” as well.
- The signs need to be fixed.
- The people need to be looked after.
- I need to be alone.
The phrase “needs to be” or “need to be” is a passive voice way of saying that someone or something should do something, but it doesn’t usually matter who does it.
Is It “It Needs” Or “It Need”?
Whenever you’re saying “it needs,” you always need to include the “s” at the end. Remember, the subject pronouns of “it” can only be accompanied by “needs” with an “s.” Without the “s,” it’ll not only sound incorrect, but it will actually be incorrect, and you should avoid using that if you remember the rules about the subject pronouns.
Is It “That Need” Or “That Needs”?
“That” works in much the same manner as “it” in the sense of a subject pronoun, so “that needs” is almost always the correct choice. However, in different scenarios, you can sometimes say “that need.”
- That needs fixing.
- It’s them that need help.
Is It “There Need” Or “There Needs”?
Again, this entirely depends on whether the accompanying clause refers to the plural or the singular form. In the singular form, “needs” is the only correct answer, but if the object in the sentence is in the plural form, “need” is correct.
- There needs to be a way to change that.
Referring to only one way to change it (singular form).
- There need to be three people here at all times.
Referring to three people (plural form).
Is It “She Need” Or “She Needs”?
Finally, we come to the last tester. This one uses a subject pronoun that we’ve already covered. We did cover it a little while ago, though, so do you remember which one works? There’s only one correct answer, and that is “she needs.”
- She needs help.
- She needs me.
- She needs someone.
Quiz: Have You Mastered The Need Or Needs Grammar?
Now that we’ve got through the differences between “need” and “needs,” it’s time to put our newfound skills to the test. See if you’ve retained the information we’ve given you and check your answers at the end! Hopefully, you’ll get all of them correct, though if you get one wrong, recheck the article to see if there’s anything you missed! Good luck! We know you’ll do well on this!
- I (A. need / B. needs) to leave.
- We (A. need / B. needs) to be careful.
- The fence (A. need / B. needs) to be fixed.
- If (A. need / B. needs) be, I’ll come and help.
- That (A. need / B. needs) an extra set of hands.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.