I need for you to help me


I have heard that 'I need you to do it' can be rewritten as 'I need for you to do it' and 'for' is optional. Do you agree with this? And then, can we also apply this rule to 'want' like 'I want for you to help me? Thank you so much as always and take good care.

asked Nov 11 '12 at 07:45 Hans Contributor

3 answers


I mostly agree with Shawn, but ...


I don't think "need for" is really a grammatical error. Rather, it seems to me to be a stylistic misstep.


To directly answer HsKyH7 question -- "I need you to do it" and "I want you to do it" are correct Standard English. "For" is not really optional, in that adding it produces a sentence that, while grammatically correct, is stylistically flawed. I believe that people sometimes use this formulation in order to soften "need" and make it seem less demanding. As Shawn points out, "I want for you" is seldom used.


I hope this helps. 

link comment answered Nov 11 '12 at 18:55 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

Yes, I totally agree with your sentence.  If you use "for" then it is always followed by an infinitive phrase.

link comment answered Nov 11 '12 at 08:52 sanjay Expert

Hmm, I am not sure I agree with Sanjay here.  I did find 12 examples of 'I need for you to...' sentences on a reputable corpus (a corpus is a computerized, searchable index of millions of texts of written and spoken English) on the Internet (http://corpus.byu.edu/coca/) but they sound incorrect to my Canadian-born-and-raised ears.  (I searched for 'I need you to...' sentences on the same website and found 653 examples.)


If it is a grammar mistake, and I am quite sure it is, I think I know where the error comes from.  The expression 'There is no need for you to [do something]' uses the word 'need' as a noun. (This has the same meaning as the British English use of 'need' as a modal verb: 'You needn't [do something]' - in North American English it would be more natural to say 'You don't have to [do something].) 


'I need for you to do it' takes that common, grammatically-correct expression and changes 'need' from a noun to a verb.  But I think it is incorrect.   'I need you to do it' is correct.


Here is a good reference for how to use the verb 'need' in English, but it doesn't address the question you have raised:  http://www.britishcouncil.org/learnenglish-central-grammar-need.htm


I shall be very interested to hear the Grammarly experts weigh in on this one...


As for the 2nd part of your question, the verb 'want' should definitely not be used with 'for you to [do something]'.  I searched the same database for 'I want for you to...' sentences and, again, found only 12 examples.  (A search of 'I want you to...' sentences found 5,485 examples.  So I am extraordinarly confident that I am right on this one!  <grin>)

link answered Nov 11 '12 at 13:21 Shawn Mooney Expert

I agree, Shawn. I do hear some people say "I need for you to do that." It never sounds quite right to my ear either. Of course, just because people use a certain combination of words, doesn't mean it is grammatically correct. That is probably why reading is more helpful to an ESL learner than watching movies & TV, if the person wants to learn to write. ---- So, Canada, eh? (wink) Please join in more often, Shawn! A Canadian perspective on the English language would be a good addition to the regulars.

Patty TNov 11 '12 at 17:58

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