Subscribe to The Chicago Manual of Style Online
Usage and Grammar
Q. I am from Pittsburgh and was informed that instead of “The clothes need to be washed,” I am saying, “The clothes need washed.” Is “The clothes need washed” an incorrect or incomplete sentence?
A. Appearance in published books is one way to gauge the relative formality of an expression. If you type “need washed, need washing, need to be washed” into Google’s Ngram Viewer, which surveys millions of books published over the last two hundred years, you’ll see that “need washed” didn’t gain in currency until about twenty years ago, and that the other expressions are much more strongly favored, with “need to be washed” used twice as much as “need washing.”