What Is Need?

A need is a requirement or obligation. It can also be a want. A need can be something that people have to do, such as working together to finish a project on time. A need can also be a feeling, such as the need to feel valued by others. A need can be a reason to take action, such as the need to find a new job. The word need is a semi-modal verb, which means it is sometimes used like a modal and at other times like a main verb. It is mostly used in negative contexts: ‘No one needs to know the name of the person who made the complaint.’ In interrogative sentences it is usually formed with ‘need’ and an object: ‘Does he need to be there?’

A common academic model of need is the hierarchy of needs, first developed by psychologist Abraham Maslow in 1943. His theory is that people need to satisfy basic physiological or lower order needs (such as food, water and shelter) before they can achieve higher level psychological needs like belonging and self-actualisation.

Another definition of need is that it is the gap between what people have and what they want. This gap can be filled by a wide range of things, from material goods to human services. The concept of need is an important part of the human rights movement, as it is based on the principle that all humans have certain inherent and universal needs.

Whether these needs can be satisfied, however, is a more complicated question. The details of need satisfaction vary between societies and cultures, and individual interpretations of what these needs are may be influenced by culture and social class. For example, a person’s needs may differ according to their level of education or wealth, which may lead them to believe that they are entitled to more than someone else who is less well-off.

When describing personal needs in an article, it is helpful to use both the words ‘need’ and ‘want’. This helps readers understand that the difference is that ‘want’ describes a desire for something, whereas ‘need’ indicates a requirement. Using these terms also allows the reader to see that there are various ways of beneficially meeting those needs.

Need is related to the verb ‘to need’, which is the infinitive without ‘to’: ‘He needs a new jacket.’

The articles ‘a’ and ‘an’ are also related to the word need, but they are different from the semi-modal ‘to need’. ‘An’ is used with singular nouns, while ‘a’ is used with plural nouns and inanimate objects. In addition, ‘an’ is usually pronounced /an/, while ‘a’ is pronounced /a/. These differences are not significant, and the usage of these articles is not regulated by any official guidelines. Nevertheless, it is generally accepted that the use of ‘an’ and ‘a’ in need should be avoided where possible. This is particularly important in formal writing, where the word should be replaced with other verbs such as’must’ and’should’.