- Do the needful is a common phrase in Indian English.
- It means do that which is needed.
- If it sounds too clunky or vague to you, or if your audience will be unfamiliar with it, you can politely ask people to do what you need them to do instead.
- You can also say do what needs to be done.
Does the phrase do the needful sound strange to you? It might, if you speak American English or British English. If you speak Indian English, however, it may be your go-to phrase in many situations.
What Does “Do the Needful” Mean?
Do the needful originated in India, is commonly used in African countries, and was once heard frequently in the United Kingdom as well. After the Victorian period, its usage in the West died out, but with the increase in outsourcing to and from India, it started catching the ear of English speakers in the West again.
Do the needful means do that which is needed. It’s mainly used in formal written communication, especially when dealing with bureaucracy. It can be preceded by the words “kindly” or “please.” Ideally, it should follow an explanation of a problem that needs to be fixed or a request that is being made. It’s important to provide enough context about what “the needful” actually is, because the phrase itself doesn’t specify.
There are many other phrases you could use instead of do the needful. “Please do what I asked” or “could you please fix this” might suffice, although “please do what needs to be done” or “please do what is required” are the phrases closest to the original meaning.