Auxiliary Verbs / Helping Verbs


An Auxiliary verb, also called a helping verb, has no meaning on its own but helps the main verb in functional and grammatical way.

Similar Subjects:

Action Verbs / Linking Verbs
Modal Verbs

Subject Exercises:
Auxiliary vs Main Verb Exercise
Auxiliary Verbs Exercise 2
Modals Exercises
Most common auxiliary verbs are: To be, have, do, will.


TO BE


In Progressive (Continuous) tenses:


We are watching TV in our room right now. (present progressive)
Sally was shopping when I saw her. (past progressive)
They have been running for an hour. (present perfect progressive)
We had been sleeping for an hour when the fire alarm rang. (past perfect progressive)
Note: we always use the "-ing" form of the main verb following the auxiliary verb.


In Passive Voice


Example:

The window is broken.
The bridge was built.
The new program has been declared.
It should be renovated.
Your assignment must be finished by tomorrow.


Have


In Compound Tenses:

They have cleared all the evidence.
Nobody has seen anything.
She has been singing.
We had arranged everything.
Nothing has been done about the incident.


DO


In Negatives

I don’t like horror films.
John didn’t participate our club.


In Questions

Does your brother know Spanish?
Did you attend the course yesterday?


In emphasis

I do want to marry you.

Note: these three auxiliary verbs (be, do and have) can also be used as full verbs, so pay attention to the words coming after them to distinguish between the two uses.

I am so exhausted today.

"To be" is the main verb of the sentence here as it isn't followed by a full verb.

I have a car and it is so expensive.

Both the verb “have” (indicates possession) and “to be” are full verbs in this sentence.

Can you do me a favor please?
I am doing my best to pass my class.

The verb "do" is the main verb in this sentence; however, "to be" is an auxiliary verb as it is followed by the main verb (doing).


WILL


Can only be used as an auxiliary verb:

I will help you with the chores.
They won’t come today.


Modal Auxiliary Verbs


Most common ones are:

Can / could / may / might / shall / should / must / ought to / had better

Examples:

I cannot talk to you right now.
You had better finish your homework before your father arrives.
We must obey the traffic rules.
I think you should take an aspirin.
He might be in his office.
Could you open the door for me, please?

See Auxiliary Verbs Exercise

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