Didn’t need to or needn’t have

Ask the wise old owl

Wise Old Owl

Didn’t need to or needn’t have?

Didn’t need to = something in the past was not necessary
I didn’t need to go into the office yesterday. I worked from home on the new web pages.
I didn’t need to pick my friend up from the station because she decided to walk.

Needn’t have = something in the past was done, but it wasn’t necessary
I needn’t have bought so much food. There was a lot left over at the end of the party.
We needn’t have hurried to get the report finished. We ran out of time at the meeting and didn’t even talk about it.

The children didn’t need to go to school yesterday. The school was closed because of the snow.
This means that the children were able to stay at home.

The children needn’t have gone to school yesterday. The school was closed because of the snow.
The children did go to school because they didn’t know it was closed. When they got to school, they saw that the school was closed and realised that they’d had a wasted journey.

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