Helping Verbs

(Auxiliary Verbs)


verbsHelping verbs are verbs that are used with a main verb in a sentence to express an action or state of being.

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Helping verbs are also known as auxiliary verbs.

A verb is a word that shows an action or state of being.

Examples of verbs:
  • The horse jumped.

  • Richard and Mike are laughing.

  • Sarah likes to help in the kitchen.

  • The ball bounces high.

Helping verbs are verbs that are usually used WITH a main verb in a sentence to express an action or state.


helping verb + main verb = complete idea


There are two types of helping verbs: primary helping verbs and modal helping verbs.

Primary helping verbs can be used as helping verbs or alone as the main verb.

Modal helping verbs can only be used as helping verbs. They are never used alone.

ball bouncing

Primary helping verbs

Primary helping verbs are helping verbs that can also be used alone as the main verb in a sentence.

A) The "to be" verbs

The "to be" verbs show a state of being.

These are the different forms of the "to be" verbs:
  • be
  • being
  • been
  • was
  • were
  • am
  • is
  • are
Examples of "be" verbs as helping verbs:

(helping verb + main verb)
  • Tom will be eating at our house tonight.

  • I have been calling you all night!

  • I was talking to her.

  • She is baking cookies.

  • Fred and Lisa are walking to the park.

Examples of "be" verbs as main verbs:
  • She will be here at 5:00.

  • Mike was there.

  • Tim and Sally were at the game.

  • I am at school.

  • Where are you?
boy hiding

B) The "do" verbs

These are the different forms of "do":
  • do
  • does
  • did

The "do" verbs have a variety of uses.

  • As main verbs when asking questions

    Do you like carrots?

    Did you do your chores?

  • As helping verbs to make a negative

    He does not want to go today.

    She did not finish her supper.

  • As helping verbs to emphasize

    Tom and Bob did complete all of their homework.

    Bill does love you!
man with flowers

C) The "have" verbs

These are the different forms of "have":
  • have
  • has
  • had

The "have" verbs are used as helping verbs to show an action that has already been completed.

Examples of "have" verbs as helping verbs:
  • Tim had spoken to his mom about the trip.

  • I have called you for hours!

  • Sally has eaten all her food.
eating

The "have" verbs can also be used alone as main verbs.

Examples of "have" verbs as main verbs:
  • He has a green car.

  • I have a dog.

  • Jack and Jill had pizza for supper. 
eating pizza


Modal helping verbs

Modal helping verbs can never be used alone in a sentence. 

Modal helping verbs must always be used with a main verb.

These are the different forms of modal helping verbs:
  • may, might, must

  • should, would, could

  • will, can, shall

Examples of modal helping verbs in sentences:

modal helping verb + main verb

  • Correct:

    Erica might walk home from school today.

  • Incorrect:

    Erica might home from school today.

    There is no main verb (action) in this sentence.

  • Correct:

    I could buy you a new bike.

  • Incorrect:

    I could you a new bike.

    There is no main verb (action) in this sentence.

  • Correct:

    We will learn about verbs today.

  • Incorrect:

    We will about verbs today.

    There is no main verb (action) in this sentence.

    student
To learn more about modal verbs, visit English Modal Verbs.


Notes:

You do not have to use a helping verb in every sentence.


You MUST use a main verb in every sentence.


These were the uses of helping verbs. Now that you know them, it is time to practice: Illustrated Worksheet on English Helping Verbs.

 

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