- She crawled for the first time today!
What is a verb?
In the following example sentences, the verb is underlined:
What are helping verbs?
You can see that, on their own, these auxiliary verbs don't really mean anything - sentences like "The school bus had." or "The students were." or "They should have." don't mean anything on their own, but in the context of the sentence, they change the meaning of the other verbs, by making them past or future tense, by implying a suggestion, or in many other ways we will see later in the lesson.
Categories of Helping Verbs
All the helping verbs can be divided into 3 broad groups:
1. Primary Helping Verbs: be, do, have
These verbs change form to match the subject.
These verbs can be used as the main, or primary, verb in the sentence.
They are considered helping verbs if they function in these ways:
|Be||forming progressive tenses||We are fishing.|
|showing the passive voice||The book was written in 1850.|
|Have||forming perfect tenses||They have already eaten.|
|Do||asking questions||Did you take the bus?|
|forming negatives||He does not study as much as he should.|
|emphasizing something||We do care if you succeed.|
|replacing a main verb if it was already referred to||I run slower than you do.|
These verbs are considered auxiliary verbs, because they are only serving a grammatical function, not adding new information. This makes them different from modal verbs, which are the next category we will discuss.
2. Modal Verbs or Modal Auxiliaries or Modal Helping Verbs: can, could, may, might, will, would, shall, should, must, ought to
3. Semi-Modal Verbs: need, dare, used to
|Primary Helping Verbs
[these verbs change form]
|Modal Verbs or Modal Auxiliaries
[these verbs NEVER change form]
[partly modal, partly main verb]
|BE (am, is, are, was, were, being, been)
DO (does, do, did)
HAVE (has, have, had, having)