Some previous studies (e.g. Quirk and Svartvik, 1966; Greenbaum, 1974) were conducted on the divided usage of need in non-assertive contexts so as to collect information about the use of and attitudes towards its variants. The present survey seeks to yield current information about this usage in contemporary Australian English and Hong Kong English. Data were collected via two elicitation tests with Australian and Hong Kong English teachers and high-school students, and an analysis of three corpora. The findings suggest that unlike other divided usages (e.g. used and have to) which favour the lexical structure, both the lexical and auxiliary variants of need are widely accepted and used in the speech communities of Australia and Hong Kong. Another finding of this study is that the stylistic difference between auxiliary and lexical need has become blurred, especially in Hong Kong as a non-native English speaking community. Some practical suggestions for language teachers on determining what variants to teach are made at the end of this paper. Copyright © 2001 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.