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Figure of Speech

Helping Verbs / Auxiliary Verbs For Students And Children

Helping verbs, otherwise known as auxiliary verbs, are those whose importance can be underestimated easily. As the word itself signifies, they provide help to the sentence by appearing before the action verbs and linking verbs. You need not get all worked-up with the thought that you won’t be able to grab the concepts. They are those words that we all use but seldom notice. Putting it in simpler words, helping verbs are quite essential for the grammatical correctness of a sentence. Helping verbs are often used in conjunction with main verbs, to express shades of time and also to determine a particular mood. They can even replace the main verb in the sentence and complete the sentence at the same time. The beautiful combination of helping verbs with main verbs gives us the so-called verb-string or verb-phrase. When the helping verbs complement the main verb perfectly, the reader finds it convenient to get the clear picture of what the author is trying to express. Such verbs also give a detailed idea of the tense being used in the sentence. Though when used alone, they do not signify anything. Thus, in short, auxiliary verbs help improve the quality and the meaning of a phrase or sentence to a good extent.

Auxiliary Verbs

Primary Helping Verbs

Primary helping verbs, in a sentence, can be used to modify the tense or change the voice of the main verb. They can complete a sentence even when not accompanied by another main verb. In certain cases, the primary helping verbs themselves serve as the main verb and make the sentences grammatically correct and complete. The primary helping verbs are usually three viz., be, do and have. These three can be used as helping verbs and even main verbs. Otherwise known as primary auxiliaries, they also help in performing the following functions that aid in building sentences.

  • Aiding the passive voice
  • Expressing continuous tense of the sentence
  • Making the sentence complete
  • Providing a verb to the sentence where a negative sentence can be converted according to particular tenses.

List Of Primary Helping Verbs

Be: is, are, am, were, was, being, been.
Do: does, did.
Have: had, has

Examples Based On Functions:

  • He is watching T.V. (be – used for continuous tense)
  • Games are played by children. (Passive voice)
  • have finished my lunch. (have – used to express perfect tense)
  • do not want to go. (do – used to make negatives)
  • Do you want something?
  • do want to go there, but feel awkward.
  • Are you sick?
  • Do wildflowers grow in your backyard?

Examples On Main Verb:

  • To be there for someone is indeed a blessing. (‘be’ as the main verb ) It is an honor for me to be standing here with you. (‘be’ as a helping verb)
  • You were there for me always. (‘were’ as main verb) You were busy studying then. (‘were’ as helping verb)
  • Where have you been? (‘been’ as main verb) I have been trying to call you. (‘been’ as helping verb)
  • Have some food from the plate. (‘have’ as main verb) I have been talking to her about it. (‘have’ as helping verb)

Modal Helping Verbs

Modal helping verbs also tend to modify the tense as well as the meaning of the sentence. Unlike the primary helping verbs, they cannot replace the main verb or, rather they change the mood of the main verb. They are also called as modal auxiliaries. Modal auxiliaries emphasize the main verb and express the need for an action in a sentence. They express possibilities in a statement, necessities in a sentence and change the main verb accordingly. These verbs cannot occur by themselves in a sentence, they have to be accompanied by the main verb. They are basically ten in number. They are listed as follows:

  • Can
  • Could
  • May
  • Might
  • Will
  • Would
  • Shall
  • Should
  • Must
  • Ought to

Some examples using modal helping verbs:

  • can’t speak Japanese.
  • You should go home now.
  • It might rain today.
  • Would you mind a cup of coffee?
  • will go talk to her today.
  • Could you lend me a book?
  • Shall I call a doctor?
  • You should have seen it yesterday, it was awesome.
  • She might be my class teacher next semester.
  • shouldn’t have taken Biology.
  • May I leave early today?
  • You may go now.
  • Will you help me with the preparations on Sunday?
  • May I come in?
  • You ought to see the doctor.
  • Open the door that might be Henry.
  • Could you spare me some time?
  • He might be injured.
  • We could spend some time together.
  • don’t have enough money to buy lunch. Could you lend me some money?
  • It’s way past my bedtime and I’m really tired. I should go to bed.
  • John is over two hours late already, he might be late to school again.
  • In order to get through, she should work harder.
  • May, I borrow this pen to fill the application form?
  • Would you mind speaking more softly?

It is indeed essential to frame a sentence that has the least (preferably no!) grammatical errors. In order to fulfill this very requirement, it is mandatory to make the foundation of your language firm and strong. Helping verbs, when used properly and with all the rules followed correctly, aid in enhancing the quality of a sentence. Hope this article has reached its expectation in enhancing your knowledge on the concepts of helping verbs. Using the keys mentioned above while building sentences, you will surely get the hang of this form of verbs.

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