Dare and Need for intermediate learners

'Dare' and 'need' have characteristics of both modal verbs and main verbs. Because of this, they are called semi-modals. In this lesson, we'll learn about them.

"Dare and Need" in English Grammar

What Are Dare and Need?

'Dare' and 'need' both can be main verbs or semi-modal verbs in English. As a semi-modal, 'dare' is often followed by the base form of the verb and is used to form questions and negative statements. 'Need' as a semi-modal is often followed by 'to' and the base form of the verb.

Structure

As mentioned before, semi-modals are verbs that function similarly to modal verbs in English, but also have some characteristics of main verbs. 'Dare' and 'need' are two famous, common semi-modal verbs in English grammar.

As a modal verb, 'dare' is only used in negative statements and questions and the following verb must be in base form. Pay attention to the examples:

I dare not go to the party.

How dare she do it here?

Even though the subject is third person singular 'she', the main verb remains in base form.

Warning!

Like modal verbs, semi-modals do not change form when using third-person singular pronouns.

As a main verb, 'dare' is used to express courage or audacity to do something. In this sense, it can be followed by an infinitive or a gerund. For example:

She dares to do that to me in front of my coworkers.

They dared to talk trash behind me.

As you can see, an infinitive is used after 'dare'.

As a modal verb, 'need' is often followed by 'to' and the base form of the verb, and can be used to form questions and negative statements.

They need not write tonight.

Need she shout that loud in the street?

As a main verb, 'need' is used to express necessity or obligation. It is often followed by an infinitive or a gerund and can be used in different tenses and forms. For example:

I need more shoes.

She needed help to move the heavy furniture.

Tip!

You can add an auxiliary verb to turn these sentences into negative statements. Look at the examples below:

I need more shoes. → I don't need more shoes.

Dare take me with you. → Don't you dare take me with you.

This form is more common among native speakers.

Uses

Need

  • To Force Someone or Be Forced to Do Something
  • To Require Something

To Force Someone or to Be Forced to Do Something

One of the uses of 'need' is to show that something important must be done or when you are ordering someone to do an important task. Pay attention to the examples below:

I need to talk to my mom as soon as possible.

They need to stop behaving like that if they want to continue working in this café.

Something

Sometimes 'need' is used to require something. Let us look at the following examples carefully:

I really need sport shoes for work.

She needs many critical essays for her dissertation.

Dare

'Dare' also has two meanings and is used in two different contexts as listed below:

  • To Be Brave Enough to Do Something
  • To Challenge Someone, Especially in a Difficult Situation

To Be Brave Enough to Do Something

'Dare' is sometimes used to show how we are brave enough to do or not do something. Let us see some examples below:

I don't dare talk to him right now because he's so angry.

She dares contradict the mayor's principles.

To Challenge Someone, Especially in a Difficult Situation

Sometimes 'dare' is used to challenge someone and it is usually a difficult one. Study the examples below carefully:

I dare you turn the card.

We dare you cast a spell on us.

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