Helping Verbs

Auxiliary verbs, also known as helper verbs are helping the main verb of a sentence by adding communication complex grammar concepts to it, like tense, voice, or possibility.

Let’s dive into it and learn more about helping verbs.

You can also read: English Verbs

What is a helping verb?

A helping verb is a verb that is used together with a main verb to add grammatical information to it, like tense, voice, or possibility.

Helping Verbs List

Here is the list of the most common helping verbs (Auxiliary verbs). We have divided the auxiliary verbs into three categories to make it easy for you to study them.

The Primary Auxiliariessupporting auxiliaryModal Auxiliaries
Be (am, is, are, was, were, being, been)Do (do, does, did)Can/Could
Have (have, has, had)Will/Would
Ought to

The Primary Auxiliaries Verbs

  • Be and have are the primary auxiliaries.
  • Be is used to make the present continuous and the past continuous
    • I am working.
    • Rob is using the computer.
    • We were all wondering about that.
    • Kevin was teaching in America in 1985. and also the passive.
    • These books are sold in supermarkets.
    • Martin was arrested and held overnight.
  • Have is used to make the present perfect and the past perfect.
    • Stephen has finished fixing the car.
    • George and Alice have seen the show already.
    • Amanda had already eaten when we arrived.
    • They had not expected to see us there.

Supporting Auxiliary Verbs

  • Do is the supporting auxiliary. It is used in forming negatives, questions, and emphatic statements.
    • I do not like sausages at all.
    • Do you like prawns?
    • You do like prawns, don’t you?

Modal Auxiliary Verbs

  • Will, may, might, and the other verbs are the modal auxiliary verbs, usually called simply modal verbs. A modal verb allows us to talk about actions as possible, certain/uncertain, or necessary.
    • Charlie will go home on Friday.
    • Charlie may go home on Friday.
    • Charlie could go home on Friday.
    • Charlie must go home on Friday.

Auxiliaries can be combined together in a single verb phrase. For example, a verb phrase may consist of a modal + a form of have + a form of be + a form of a main verb.

  • I could have been making a bad mistake by trusting him.
  • Sara will have been living in New Zealand for 2 years next month.
  • You must have been given the wrong number.

We are using auxiliary verbs or helping verbs to add grammatical information to the main verb as follows:

– To show tense.

  • I have seen it.
  • She had seen it.
  • She has been thinking.
  • She had been thinking.

– To show number and person agreement with the subject.

  • She has seen it.
  • They have seen it.
  • I am looking for it.
  • You are looking for it.

– To form negations. It will take any negative immediately after it.

  • I do not want to do that.
  • She has not been concentrating.

– To make questions. It can come before the subject to make a question.

  • Do you want to help us?
  • Have you got a mobile phone?