An auxiliary verb is a verb that can help in the formation of many of the tenses. You can also name an auxiliary verb as a helping verb, as they are helping in the making of questions and negative sentences and also compound and the passive tenses. You can find out three auxiliary verbs that re known as the most common auxiliary verbs in English grammar. Those three most common auxiliary verbs are be, do and have.
One thing that you should remember is that an auxiliary verb, mainly, helps the main verb that is why, it is paired with the main verb. For example,
- I am painting for my next exhibition.
In the above example, ‘am’ is the helping verb as ‘to be’, which is paired with the main verb ‘to paint’. This helping verb ‘to be’ is used to make the verb tense i.e. the present progressive verb tense.
However, there can be such sentences in which you can find out no other verb paired with the conjugated form ‘to be’. In this case, the form ‘to be’ will be considered as the main verb. For instance, in the sentence ‘I am.’, ‘I’ is the subject and ‘am’ (to be) is the main verb.
Function of Auxiliary or Helping Verbs
Some of the auxiliary verbs are be, do, have, can, could, would, should, will, shall, may, might, etc.
The auxiliary verb ‘be’ can be used to make progressive and passive tenses. For example,
- He is going to the market for shopping. (Progressive)
- She was trained by a highly qualified institution. (Passive)
The auxiliary verb ‘have’ can be used in perfect sentences. For example,
- I have been waiting for you since morning.
The auxiliary verb ‘do’ can be used in making questions and negative sentences. For example,
- She does not like the dress that you gave her. (Negative)
- Did he agree with my terms and conditions? (Question)
Note: The forms ‘be’, ‘have’ and ‘do’ not only used as an auxiliary verb but they can be used as a main verb as well. For instance, the conjugated forms of ‘be’ can be, is, am, being, been, was, and were; that can be used as a main verb too.
An auxiliary verb can help in creating emphasis as well. In this case, ‘do’ is used to create emphasis by pairing itself with a main verb. For example,
- I do agree with your terms and conditions.
Primary Helping Verbs vs. Modal Helping Verbs
By primary helping verbs, I mean the forms ‘be’, ‘have’, and ‘do’. It means that they are the helping verbs that can stand alone without the main verb. As I said above that ‘be’, ‘have’ and ‘do’ can be used as a main verb as well. For example,
- She does her work without breaks.
In the above example, ‘does’ is a primary helping verb that is standing alone without any main verb.
By modal helping verbs, I mean ‘shall’, ‘would’, ‘should’, ‘will’, ‘can’, ‘could’, ‘might’, ‘must’, and ‘may’. These are the helping or auxiliary verbs that should be paired with the verbs in order to give a meaning in a sentence, otherwise it should be considered a grammatical error. For example,
- I will go for further studies.
In the above example, ‘will’ is the helping verb that is paired with the verb ‘go’.
It is concluded that an auxiliary verb can also be called as a helping verb, which is used in the formation of various tenses. It can help in changing the moods and voices of other verbs as well. Primary helping verbs (be, do, and have) can stand alone without a verb. On the other hand, modal helping verbs (shall, would, should, will, can, could, might, must, and may) are always paired with the main verb.