Modal auxiliaries are helping verbs that connect with normal/ordinary verbs to express a meaning, ask a question or negate. Modal auxiliaries are never used with the main auxiliaries; be, have and do, and do not make sense on their own, therefore, they must be connected with a normal verb in order to make sense. Modal verbs also never change form (they cannot be conjugated). Dictionary definition according to Merriam Webster: ”an auxiliary verb (such as can, must, might, may) that is characteristically used with a verb of predication and expresses a modal modification and that in English differs formally from other verbs in lacking -s and -ing forms”. Here, we are going to elaborate on the modal auxiliary verb, need to. (Note that modal auxiliaries are never followed by ‘to’ before the infinitive, except with, need to, ought to and dare to).
(1) Need to is used both as an auxiliary and an ordinary very. We use ‘need to‘ to express necessity or requirements, things or people that we need.
Auxiliary form (need to):
- He needn’t smoke so much, it’s really bad for his health.
- We really need to learn another language apart from English.
- You need to wait at a red light.
Ordinary form (need):
- I think you’ll find that you have everything you need in the new office.
- Whatever you need just let me know.
- They desperately need my help now.