"I need to find rice."
Translation:Мне нужно найти рис.
could someone please explain how нужно works as a verb? For some reason I thought the ending changed according to gender/number, but this doesn't seem to work...
Easy. It is not a verb:). In fact, it is a predicate word (arguably, a short adjective).
Use with VERBS
Use the Dative form if you need to state the person (or object) in need. Use an infinitive after нужно:
- Мне нужно спать. = I need to sleep, I have to sleep etc.
- Нам нужно учиться. = We need to study.
- Вам нужно купить сумку. = You need to buy a bag.
You can also use надо, which means pretty much the same. We are not teaching Dative this early in the course, so these two words are only used with pronouns for now.
Use with NOUNS
Only нужно can be used. Again, the sentence will use a Dative "experiencer" of a need. The required object will be the subject, so you'll have to use the appropriate gender form: нужен, нужна, нужно, нужны:
- Мне нужен велосипед. = I need a bicycle.
- Мне нужна вода. = I need water.
- Мне нужно яблоко. = I need an apple.
- Мне нужны яблоки. = I need apples.
«Надо» does not have gendered forms, and is not generally used with nouns (except in a bit more advanced structures).
I think you meant to say "Only нужно can be used." in the Verbs section, is that right?
There are a few verbs that have their infinitive end in -ти (e.g., идти, ползти, скрести).
The verb "can" is мочь in the infinitive.
Yet it is. "Найти" is a combination of "На" and "Идти", so it conjugates the same way "Идти" does.