didn't need to go / needn't go

< Previous | Next >

Wiselove

Member
Chinese
This is an exercise question in an English textbook in China.
As it was National Day yesterday, all the citizens ___ to work.
A. needn't have gone
B. must have gone
C. didn't need to go
D. needn't go
I think C is correct but I don't know whether D can be used here or we can only use C here to show neither did we need to go nor did we go.
 
  • IamDoctorIdiot

    New Member
    New Zealand English
    This is an exercise question in an English textbook in China.
    As it was National Day yesterday, all the citizens ___ to work.
    A. needn't have gone
    B. must have gone
    C. didn't need to go
    D. needn't go
    I think C is correct but I don't know whether D can be used here or we can only use C here to show neither did we need to go nor did we go.
    C is correct. D doesn't work in this case because the sentence is in past tense. None of these show that you didn't go, only that you didn't need to.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    All of these sound wrong to me. C is perhaps the least wrong, but I would have said Nobody in the city/country had to go to work. I use need to refer to a pressing crisis, not an everyday contractual obligation. Then I find the word citizens confusing: I wonder if it refers to a legal distinction between citizens and immigrants, or something like that.
     
    Last edited:

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    We don't normally use "all" with a negative statement in this way

    For example we say "None of the answers are good" instead of "All the answers are not good." (That statement sounds odd and could confuse.)

    For that reason I would say that only B fits: "All the citizens must have gone to work". But this seems an illogical statement because it isn't explained by the fact that "it was National day yesterday".
     

    Wiselove

    Member
    Chinese
    Thank you all. Maybe it's better to change the sentence to "As it was National Day yesterday, people____to work." Teachers who are not native speakers of English have made, are making and still might make wrong sentences. What a pity!

    For this new sentence, is D correct? I don't know whether "need" as an aux can be used to talk about the past. As when "must" is mentioned in a reported speech, must can be unchanged.

    As for "don't need to" and "don't have to", I have a question but I think I should ask it in a new thread so I will.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    you are proposing:

    "As it was National Day yesterday, people
    needn't go to work."

    You can't use the present tense ("need not") here, because it's something that was true yesterday. You need a past tense for the second verb.

    C would fit:

    "As it was National Day yesterday, people didn't need to go to work."


    (There is a thread, with further links, here:"need to" and "have to")
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top