To Be, Or Not To Be

ToBeOrNotToBeI’ve noticed a puzzling trend in fiction lately: the elimination of the linking verb “to be” within a sentence.  A recent example I discovered is, “The piano needs tuned.” Huh? Wouldn’t it be better to say, “The piano needs to be tuned.” or “The piano needs tuning.”

Since I’m not a grammar expert, I asked my grammar queen friend about this, and she was perplexed as well. I realize that good writers will use “to be” verbs sparingly, but it’s completely jarring when they’re eliminated all together.

Anyone else notice this trend? Can you explain it? Does it bother you, or is it natural?

Just for fun, here’s Gilligan’s Island‘s version of Hamlet, “To be, or not to be” sung to Carmen’s Habanera. (Anyone else memorize Hamlet thanks to this episode of Gilligan’s Island?)