A survey of soft modes and their relationship to structural phase transitions is presented. After introducing the concept of a soft mode, the origin of softening is considered from a lattice-dynamical point. The Landau theory approach to structural transitions is then discussed, followed by a generalisation of the soft-mode concept through the use of the dynamic order-parameter susceptibility. The relationship of soft modes to broken symmetry is also examined. Experimental results for several classes of crystals are next presented, bringing out various features such as the co-operative Jahn-Teller effect. The survey concludes with a discussion of the central peak, touching upon both the experimental results and the theoretical speculations.