Main Verbs, Auxiliary Verbs (Helping Verbs) and
Compound Verbs

English sentences can have main verbs, auxiliary verbs (also called helping verbs) and compound verbs.

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All Tenses

Let's go over each group.

Auxiliary Verbs
(also called "helping verbs")

Auxiliary verbs are verbs that are used together with another verb (called the main verb of the sentence) to express the action or state.

Main verb + auxiliary verb = complete idea

The most common auxiliary verbs are:
be, am, is, are, was, were, do, did, have, has, had.

Are singing

Are singing

The main verb is "singing."
The auxiliary verb is "are."

Example sentences (the auxiliary verb is in bold, and the main verb is underlined):
  • They are jogging.

  • She was sitting.

  • We were waiting for hours.

  • Is she sleeping?

  • He didn't know the answer.

  • We have gone a long way.

  • Has she received any of my letters?

  • Do you smoke?

  • Will she help?

Click here to learn more about helping verbs.

Practice with an Illustrated Worksheet on English Helping Verbs.

Compound Verbs

A compound verb = auxiliary verb + main verb.

was playing, has eaten, doesn't want.

She will fall.

"Will fall" is a compound verb.

Example sentences:
  • They were discussing their future.
  • He didn't tell us the truth.
  • I have finished my homework.
  • She will meet us there.

Get Vocabulary, Grammar and Teaching Tips, Site Updates and Special Offers Directly to Your Mailbox

Join our mailing list now and get a special bonus:

First 2 chapters of the English Short Stories Book and Workbook.

Are you a teacher or a student?

* We respect your email privacy and you can unsubscribe at any time. We use MailChimp as our marketing automation platform. By clicking to submit this form, you acknowledge that the information you provide will be transferred to MailChimp for processing in accordance with their Privacy Policy and Terms.