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Use of 'Be' Options
thar
Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 9:54:32 AM

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ghu wrote:
But I would like to know why you think that "need" is a noun here.

Because the verb needs a subject
subject (noun) = need
verb (subjunctive) = be.

You could insert a subject - 'it'
and use the verb 'to need'
if it need be so
(using the subjunctive ' it need')
But that is an entirely different sentence.
It is not the fixed expression so in practice you would really never end up saying it.
If you were not to use the fixed expression, you could say it another way, eg in the modern usage
If it needs to be so



Only because the modal verb "need" is not used in modern English grammar in statements? I think it "is fixed" because he came from the distant past. Otherwise, which sense to say it "is fixed" is?
If you think that it is the common way to say,"If here be a need", where is "a" in "if need be"?
Or why it is not the comman way to say,"If here need be" then?


Unfortunately, 'why?' is not a useful or answerable question. Because is has evolved to be that way. Because that is the language that people learn from their parents, who learnt it from their parents, who....
ghu
Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 10:36:11 AM
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Yes it is subjunctive "need". "If need be" is short of "If it need be (done)" (not "if it need be so")
There are a lot of short fixed expressions instead of long phrases. You know them. They don't contain subjects too. Only the part of the predicate is used there.
You couldn't prove why "need" is a noun "a need" without the article.
"need" and "a need" have different meanings.
"need to do something" and "need do something" have different meanings. Why should one use "need to do something" then??
ghu
Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 10:42:32 AM
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thar wrote:



Unfortunately, 'why?' is not a useful or answerable question.

I think quite another,fortunately. Othewise, for which purpose is there the question "why"? Whistle
thar
Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 11:05:05 AM

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True, but as people have already explained in the thread, it is a fixed expression. Asking why people use that instead of something else, or one using the more common style, is only ever going to produce the answer "because!"
ghu
Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 12:33:47 PM
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thar wrote:
True, but as people have already explained in the thread, it is a fixed expression. Asking why people use that instead of something else, or one using the more common style, is only ever going to produce the answer "because!"

I disagree. Every fixed expression has own roots of arising. It didn't came from the sky, from nowhere. And the explanation of it by "if there be a need" seems not convincing to me. So, I can't agree that "need" is a noun here.
"because it is so" doesn't work here. I ask why it is used here instead of something else only to show that the suggestion doesn't work. (the negative proof)
leonAzul
Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 5:15:46 PM

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This search for "proof" reminds of an adage in English: When you find yourself stuck in a hole then it is time to stop digging.
Whistle
thar
Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 8:12:39 PM

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ghu wrote:
thar wrote:
True, but as people have already explained in the thread, it is a fixed expression. Asking why people use that instead of something else, or one using the more common style, is only ever going to produce the answer "because!"

I disagree. Every fixed expression has own roots of arising. It didn't came from the sky, from nowhere. And the explanation of it by "if there be a need" seems not convincing to me. So, I can't agree that "need" is a noun here.
"because it is so" doesn't work here. I ask why it is used here instead of something else only to show that the suggestion doesn't work. (the negative proof)


ghu, if you read the posts, you will see 'if there be a need' is not the expression. It is someone's (I can't remember whose, I don't think mine) expansion on what another way of saying it might be. If there be a need expresses the meaning using a noun. It is not an expression anyone will use, it was an attempt to explain the meaning without using the present subjunctive which you do not appear to believe exists.
The expression 'if need be' is another way of putting it - very simply subject verb. YOu have to have a subject in a phrase, you cannot just have "if 'verb' verb".
You know that some nouns can take articles at some times and not other times.

You will never get 'proof' without a time machine. But how about this for grammar.
be = exists
I will do it if the need exists
would be said using the subjunctive
I will do it if the need be
but without the article, with 'need' an uncountable noun like 'danger'
I will do it if need be.
Most of the other instances of this have evolved and been lost.

There is another example of the noun 'needs' (plural) and the verb 'must' which would never be used if it were not an old saying. But it exists, and you can trace its evolution.

It starts as compound verb must needs (which you would not say today) in 1500
“He must nedys go that the deuell dryves”.
or
"He must nedys go that the deuell dryues."

By 1600 it had changed to
"he must needs go that the devil drives”

but as language evolved, people became less comfortable with that way of using the compound verb, and needs changed into being used as a noun
"needs must when the devil drives"

But grammar today does not use 'must' in that meaning at all. But it is a fixed idiom. People understand and use it, while still knowing it is not in modern English.

I am not suggesting that the fixed expression (not an idiom) - if need be- has changed between verb and noun. It is perfectly correct use of a subject and verb. All I am saying is that, yes, of course it has history, and a reason for existing. But you cannot try to find that reason without believing that the subjunctive (for example) and other English constructions exist, or have existed in the past!
papo_308
Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013 11:08:22 AM
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ghu wrote:

A difficulty is that I can't use the sentence if I can't get it. I don't understand Present Subjunctive.
Using the verb, which coincides with the bare infinitive, without auxiliary verb is not acceptable to me.
The clauses "he resign" "she dance" "he sing" and so on.. It seems that some auxiliary modal verb (could, must, should) is absent there.


Look at it from another perspective. Nobody forces you to use the present subjunctive, there are ways to avoid it.
But you can't make the native speakers or writers not use it occasionally, and therefore it is important to understand it correctly if you hear or read it.
For example the two simple sentences

1.It is important that John is here.
2.It is important that John be here.

express different ideas. In (1), John is already present, and it's fine for you because for some reason his presence is important. In (2), John is not present and you say that his presence would be important, that it is desirable that he should come. I think that, similar to my language, you would use the present tense of "be" in (1) and the present conditional of "be" in (2) in Russian.
ladiesman
Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013 11:22:08 AM
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It's correct
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