The mode property and light propagation in a tapered silicon-on-insulator (SOI) nanowire with angled sidewalls is analyzed. Mode hybridization is observed and mode conversion between the TM fundamental mode and higher-order TE modes happens when light propagates in a waveguide taper which is used very often in the design of photonic integrated devices. This mode conversion ratio is possible to be very high (even close to 100%) when the taper is long enough to be adiabatic, which might be useful for some applications of multimode photonics. When the mode conversion is undesired to avoid any excess loss as well as crosstalk for photonic integrated circuits, one can depress the mode conversion by compensating the vertical asymmetry in the way of reducing the sidewall angle or introducing an optimal refractive index for the upper-cladding. It is also possible to eliminate the undesired mode conversion almost and improve the desired mode conversion greatly by introducing an abrupt junction connecting two sections with different widths to jump over the mode hybridization region.