Auxiliary and Helping Verbs

What are Auxiliary and Helping Verbs?

1. Introduction:

Auxiliary and helping verbs play a crucial role in English grammar by assisting the main verbs in various ways. These verbs, also known as "helpers," work together with main verbs to convey specific meanings and create different verb tenses, moods, and voices. Understanding their function and usage is essential for mastering the nuances of English grammar.

2. What are auxiliary verbs?

Auxiliary verbs, such as "be," "do," and "have," combine with the main verb to form verb phrases. They provide additional information about tense, aspect, and voice. For example, in the sentence "She is singing," the auxiliary verb "is" indicates the present continuous tense, while the main verb "singing" expresses the action.

A verb of this type helps the main verb in a sentence. It comes before the main verb in a sentence. A helping verb has no meaning on its own. Auxiliary verb is used forming the tense, moods and voices.

Some examples of auxiliary verbs are: is, am, are, was, were, will, has, have.

2.1 Examples of auxiliary verbs:

  • Maria is eating a chocolate.

  • She will meet her sister tomorrow.

  • He does not like juice.

  • They have gone to the party.

  • Has she just meet her father?

  • She has just gone.

  • He has just finished his homework.

  • I am eating.

  • They are playing.

  • He is reading a story.

  • They were watching t.v.

  • He was playing.

  • I was eating dinner.

  • She can make a dress.

  • Holly can speak French.

  • May I sit here?

Here are some examples of auxiliary verbs being used to express mood.

  • This house was built by him.

  • A song will be sung by Molly.

2.2 Auxiliary verbs for negative and question sentences

Additionally, auxiliary verbs are essential in forming questions and negative sentences. They help invert the word order in interrogative sentences, such as "Do you like ice cream?" or "Has he finished his homework?" In negative sentences, auxiliary verbs are used to add "not" after the auxiliary verb, as in "She does not understand the instructions" or "I cannot attend the meeting."

Here are some examples:

  • Don't forget your key.

  • Have they just come?

2.3. Modal verbs:

There is another kind of auxiliary verbs, called a modal verbs. Modal verbs are a specific category of auxiliary verbs that express modality, indicating possibility, necessity, ability, permission, and other related concepts.

If you want to know more about model verbs, please read this article on model verbs.

Examples of modal verbs include "can," "could," "may," "might," "must," "shall," "should," "will," "would," and "ought to." These verbs help to convey different shades of meaning and add specificity to the main verb in a sentence. So, while all modal verbs are auxiliary verbs, not all auxiliary verbs are modal verbs.

3. What are helping verbs?

Helping verbs, on the other hand, assist the main verb in expressing nuances such as possibility, obligation, ability, and permission. Examples of helping verbs include "can," "may," "should," and "must."

These verbs modify the meaning of the main verb and help convey the speaker's intention. For instance, in the sentence "I should study for the exam," the helping verb "should" suggests a sense of obligation or recommendation.

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See Also:

English Grammar: