Must needs - needs must.

Discussion in 'English Only' started by jesuias, Nov 12, 2006.

  1. jesuias Senior Member

    Granada
    Spain Spanish
    Dear Friends, there is a line in a verse that is driving me crazy, would anybody be so kind as to clear my head? all ideas are welcome, thanks, regards:
    Gay in the conquest of these fears, I grew
    So rash that I must needs the sheaf divide
    Of ruffled kisses heaven itself had tied.
     
  2. elroy

    elroy Sharp-heeled Mod

    Chicago, IL
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I must needs = I need

    I must needs the sheaf divide = I must needs divide the sheaf = I need to divide the sheaf

    Clearer?
     
  3. jesuias Senior Member

    Granada
    Spain Spanish
    Thank you very much, I got it now... regards
     
  4. Luis Albornoz

    Luis Albornoz Senior Member

    Santa Fe
    Castellano - Argentina
  5. emma42 Senior Member

    North East USA
    British English
    Hi Laura. I was discussing usage, rather than "correct" grammar.

    I have heard "needs must" + infinitive, but it's rather archaic now. I have a feeling that there are common regional uses of the construction, but can't think of any at the moment.
     
  6. Hi Laura,

    The correct phrase is "must needs" = must, of necessity.

    The only idiom I know with needs must is "Needs must when the Devil drives."

    LRV
     
  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Needs must is listed in the OED with many reputable examples. There is a separate entry for needs must where it relates to the devil driving.

    There is no suggestion of a preference for the placing of the adverb either before or after the modal auxiliary.

    Just in case anyone might think I wrote that sentence completely unaided and from a profound understanding of its meaning, I should explain that headings in the OED under needs (adverb) include:
    II. With the modal auxiliaries [...] must, emphasizing the sense of the verb.
    Now literary and poet. except in sense 3b.
    3. a. Immediately preceding the modal auxiliary (needs must).
    b. needs must: it is necessary or unavoidable.
    4. Immediately following the modal auxiliary (must needs).
     
  8. emma42 Senior Member

    North East USA
    British English
    Thanks, Panj, for that explanation.

    Please stop being modest. We all know you wrote the OED.
     
  9. Bewareoftheevilcheeseman New Member

    UK
    Hello,

    I have been reading Professor S.B.Chrimes' biography of Henry VII for my AS studies, and I have come across a grammatical structure that I have never experienced before. Regarding his foreign policy, Chrimes states that "[Henry] must needs vindicate his pledge to support Brittany" (pg281) and also "Any further advance must needs wait on events" (pg279). Is the "such needs" a proper grammatical construction, or is it merely a typo?
     
  10. vachecow Senior Member

    Pennsylvania
    USA English
    I have never heard of it, and I would never use it. However, since it was found twice it may be an older construction.
     
  11. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hello evilcheeseman, and welcome to WordReference.

    I have added your question to the end of previous threads on this topic. I hope you find the earlier posts useful.
     
  12. Marseille302

    Marseille302 Member

    Marseille, France
    American English
    I've seen "must needs" as a locution in the present tense before, but I'm reading Kim by Rudyard Kipling, and I've come across a usage in the past tense that's got me flummoxed. Is there some kind of subjunctive going on here? What is the rule behind this? Are there ever any similar constructions used with other verbs?

    "He loosed a thin stream into Kim's hands, who drank native-fashion; but the lama must needs pull out a cup from his inexhaustible upper draperies and drink ceremonially."

    Thanks for any help!!!
     
  13. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hello Marseille - welcome to the forums!

    Must was originally a past tense, and there are still faint remnants of that history. As the OED says, though,
    By 'oblique narration', the OED means reported/indirect speech;). I'd say that in actual indirect speech it's still usable as a past tense today; but in virtual indirect speech it sounds decidedly old-fashioned.

    Kipling's using it as virtual indirect speech, and the collocation must needs is, of course, itself archaic.

    You might be interested in this thread: "Must go" used in past tense?
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2009
  14. violettelechat Senior Member

    Toulouse
    French
    I was about to create an new thread ... but I first searched the forum and found your most enlightening comments. So my question is already answered; I only give here another example of the archaic use of "needs" ans an adverb.

    At the end of the introduction (by Michael Mac Liammoir) of a 1962 edition of Oscar Wilde's "The Happy Prince and Other Stories", there is this sentence :

    "The poet, being one who has never succeeded in a final closing of those gates [the gates of the Selfish Giant's ancient garden], turns now and then to look back over his shoulder at the forsaken majesty, and then, remembering a little the moods of childhood, he needs must weep."

    Pretty, isn't it ?!
    Regards
     

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