" Need" as a modal


When can we consider "need" as a modal ? I've read about it in a book which cosnsiders "need" as a modal if it is not followed by "to" and otherwise it is considered as a main verb. Is this true?

asked May 31 '12 at 15:13 jojo New member

1 answer


I'm with Tolley on this one.  In addition to what modals are, they do not take -s in the third person singular.  Need does take -s, with or without to following it.

She needs new shoes.

She needs to buy new shoes.

link answered May 31 '12 at 15:40 Jody M. Expert

Is there certain cases For the verb "need" to be a modal or "need" cannot be a modal at all ?

jojoMay 31 '12 at 15:59

As I said below in my comment to Rahul, "need" as a modal is archaic. In British English it may be more regular. Instead of saying, "Need he change his clothes?" we most often say "should" in place of "need". The same is true in the use of "dare".

TolleyMay 31 '12 at 16:13

Again, I agree with Tolley. In each of Rahul's examples I would use "should". Why use "need" as a modal when actual modals (should, could, would) work just fine?

Jody M.May 31 '12 at 16:55

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