Only in York County

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Another take on whether ‘needs washed’ is OK

Longtime readers – really longtime – might remember that a few years ago, I talked about how dropping the phrase “to be” as part of our verbs is a prominent Yorkism.

That’s come up a few times since then, and every time, there’s heated debate – mostly between my boss and me. He feels you cannot drop the infinitive copula – he says the car needs TO BE washed – and I say, hey, economy of words, man, and say the car needs washed!

Earlier this month, I was partly vindicated in this post by Mignon Fogarty on Grammar Girl.

You should definitely check out the whole post, including an audio interview; there’s even a map of where across the country people have noticed this phenomenon. (Remember: Yorkisms aren’t “only” York things. They’re just things we do an awful lot here!)

The thing is, her end result is that if you wouldn’t use the phrase on a cover letter for a job application, you probably shouldn’t use it. True. But she backs up my theory that this construction is of Germanic-Scots-Irish origin, and she also points out that you have to know the region you’re in and what’s considered appropriate there.

For my part? I won’t turn away your job application if you tell me you can do what needs done.

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