Today, let me show you how to express the necessity of something. Of course, there are plenty of ways, but the easiest and the most common is with the word нужен “need/to be needed/necessary”.

Modal word "NEED" in Russian

First of all, it should be noted that нужен grammatically is a short form of an adjective. It means the word has four forms that must be agreed with an object. Yes, object, not subject.

For example, you need a pencil “карандаш” (masc.sing.) then it is нужен карандаш; for fem.sing. nouns we use нужна, e.g., нужна машина (a car); neut.sing. is нужно одеяло (a blanket); and for plural the form is нужны документы (documents).

Secondly, as has been already mentioned briefly, sentences with нужен have an unusual structure. Subject (Dative case) + нужен + Object (Nominative case). Besides, instead of Object, it is possible to use Gerund. In Russian, it will be a verb infinitive, and the form of need is нужно. Then, it can be translated as have to.

Here you are some examples for better understanding:

Мне нужно отвести сына на тренировку.I have to drop off my son at the training.
Этому человеку нужен новый билет.This person needs a new ticket.
Студентам нужна большая кухня.The students need a big kitchen.
Школьнице нужно модное пальто.The schoolgirl needs a trendy coat.
Нам нужны эти вещи.We need these things.
Ему не нужны проблемы.He doesn’t need/want any problems.

In the Past tense, we just add the verb to be быть in an appropriate form that also depends on the gender and number of the Object.

Ей нужен был старый график работы.She needed the previous work schedule.
Девочке нужна была красивая кукла.The girl needed a beautiful doll.
Мальчику нужно было мороженое.The boy needed an ice cream.
Вам нужны были новые идеи.You needed new ideas.
Директору нужно было провести встречу.The chief had to conduct a meeting.

In the Future tense, the verb to be is conjugated according to the number. That’s why there are only two variants: singular and plural.

Тебе нужен будет принтер в офисе?Will you need a printer at the office?
Тебе нужна будет бумага для принтера?Will you need paper for printer?
Мне нужны будут инструменты.I will need some tools.
Завтра мне нужна будет твоя помощь.Tomorrow I will need your help.
Коллегам нужно будет ехать в командировку.Colleagues will have to go on business trip.

I hope this simple but important Russian grammar topic will come in handy for you.

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