Reply to "Didn't have to or needn't have pp"

Doc V posted:

I do beg your pardon, sir.  Please note that this definition is flagged as BrE, which means strictly British usage, whereas David and I were both born and raised in the United States, where this forum is based, and we are not necessarily familiar with all the British variants.  [. . .] As the word is used in the United States, it means reviewing a text and correcting it based on that new vision (hence "revision", the noun form of the verb "revise").

I must beg your pardon as well, Ahmed, especially since I was so dismissive of your textbook. Obviously, now that I am aware of the possibility of using "revise" in this way in some parts of the world, I have no reason to believe that your textbook is rubbish. The OED (The Oxford English Dictionary -- the mother of all English dictionaries) does mention this usage of "revise." It also notes that it is generally not used in North America.

 2. Education. To go over a subject again.In North American use the more usual term is now review (see review v. 7). 

 a. transitive. To go over or read again (material already studied or learnt) in order to reinforce it, typically in preparation for an examination.

1866   Rep. Minister Educ. (Ontario. Dept. Educ.) 16   The teachers in the smaller sections have not the advantage of revising the subject of examination by classes of an advanced character.
1892   Glasgow Med. Jrnl. 38 220   It is well illustrated and printed, and will be of great assistance to the student in revising the subject.
1917   C. H. Jarvis Teaching Hist. ix. 160   The best form of revision is not oral questioning... The children must carefully revise their knowledge, using note-book and text-book.
1946   ‘B. Truscot’ First Year at Univ. v. 66   Assuming the examination to be in May or June,..[the Easter] vacation should..be devoted to revision, and the work to be revised must be systematically divided up among the time available.
1967   Oxf. Mag. 10 Feb. 205/2   I ask them [sc. Canadian students] to revise a piece of work and with outrageous disobedience they review it.
2002   Times Educ. Suppl. (Nexis) 31 May 18   I found myself spending an entire sunny Saturday afternoon revising GCSE history while my daughter was, sensibly, out playing tennis.
 

 b. intransitive. To reread or relearn work done previously; to prepare for an examination in this way.

1886   Lancet 9 Oct. 679/1   [He] had to grind away at revising for the anatomy and physiology examinations when he ought to have his mind at leisure for the clerkship..he had come to hold.
1905   Jrnl. Educ. Apr. 256/2   The guiding principle of the method being constant revision, the pupils..revise from the beginning at each lesson until the amount of work becomes so great as to leave no time to go further ahead.
1977   C. Dexter Silent World N. Quinn xii. 109   You revise, I suppose?.. I mustn't keep you from your revising.
1994   C. Keatley My Mother said I never Should (new ed.) p. xiv   Doris asks why Jackie hasn't visited them... Margaret fibs that Jackie is busy revising for her exams.
2001   South Wales Evening Post (Nexis) 4 Sept. 6   I had to..fit in my shifts around my exams, revision and housework... [But] I always went out on Saturday night and I never revised on Sundays.

Let's return, then, to your original question here, Ahmed:

Ahmed Abdelhafeez posted:
"We didn't have a test today so I .............for it last night!"

A- didn't have to revise
B- needn't have revised

Contrary to what I said in my first post, which I now regret making, the sentence is correct -- at least in the dialect of English spoken by the author of the book. Whatever dialect of English he or she speaks, we know that it is not American English. The sentence does not work in American English, though it is possible that it worked in AmE a long time ago.

As DocV notes, there can be no objection to it from an etymological standpoint.

If you use "revise" this way around a speaker of American English, please expect the same type of reaction I initially gave you. Even now that I know of this alternate British usage, I will never use it. It is a mere curiosity. Americans would use "revise" in a variation of your sentence in which a school paper was under discussion -- viz.:

  • The term paper isn't due today, so, as it turns out, I (didn't have to revise mine / needn't have revised mine) last night.

Just as "didn't have to revise mine" (i.e., "my term paper") and "needn't have revised mine" can both be used in that variation, which does work in American English, so also both options work in the test question you quoted -- provided that the speaker or writer, and those to whom he is speaking or writing, are not from N. America, in which the question will tend to make no sense whatsoever.

As the OED says, people in North America tend to use "review" instead of "revise" for the meaning that is needed here. Another term that we use in the specific context of school tests is "prepare." That is the verb that I would use here. If I were editing the textbook, I'd recommend that the verb be changed thus (or to "review"), so that the sentence will be comprehensible to AmE speakers:

  • We didn't/don't have a test today, so I needn't have prepared/reviewed for it last night.
  • We didn't/don't have a test today, so I didn't have to prepare/review for it last night.

  • We didn't/don't have a test today, so there was no need for me to prepare/review for it last night.
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