Lesson 14: Auxiliary Verbs
In this lesson, we will be discussing auxiliary verbs, their uses and how to use them in a sentence.
- To state the definition of an auxiliary verb
- To enumerate different types of auxiliary verbs
- To provide examples and illustrate how they’re used in a sentence
Quick Navigation through the Lesson 14:
An auxiliary verb is also known as a helping verb. They are verbs that are used to help form different sentences—they are the tools used to transition from different tenses, voices and sentence types.
Examples & Usage
Auxiliary verbs are very important—without them, we wouldn’t be able to form any of the sentences or statements that we’ve discussed so far. We wouldn’t be able to translate past tense into present progressive tense—we wouldn’t be able to shift from the active to the passive voice. While auxiliary verbs don’t necessarily carry a lot of action, they definitely help the action happen. In this portion of our lesson, we’ll discuss the different auxiliary verbs and how they’re used.
Be, Do and Have are very commonly used auxiliary verbs. In this portion, we’ll be discussing how they’re used. We’ll also be giving you examples to help you understand how they’re used in a sentence.
Be is often used in two instances: first, in a progressive sentence and second, in a sentence that is in the passive voice. More than just the literal verb be, the collective term “Be Verbs” is used to describe auxiliary verbs which denote a state of being. Like, Feel, Am, Is, Was, Are are all considered be verbs.
She is getting ready for her Valentine’s date.
I am taking a bath.
There was something going on.
The sample sentences above are all in the progressive tense and two of them are in the active voice. Below are a couple of examples of be in the passive voice:
The cake was prepared by Samantha.
Her toenails were painted by the lady at the salon.
She is getting picked up by Joe.
Do verbs are often used to confirm, deny or question a statement—they can be used in statements that either confirm, negate or interrogate. All permutations of do such as did and does are considered “Do Verbs”.
She does not have a crush on you.
He does enjoy being here.
Does he like it at the park?
This is one of the most specific auxiliary verbs, along with its different tense variations—has, had—because it is only used in perfect tenses. It is still, however, very useful at conveying continuity between the past and present or future.
In a few hours, all of this will have been over.
Has she been here long?
It had all happened a lifetime ago.
Will is used to convey intent or desire. Would is the past-tense variant of will and is often used to convey regret or wistfulness. It can also be used to describe routines which no longer take place. It is usually used with the very have (e.g. I would have).
I will meet him one day.
I would have gone, but I had no money.
We would drive nowhere, for hours.
Shall is a rather antiquated verb—although it is sometimes used for politeness. This is very similar to will, both in meaning and in usage. Should, however—which is the past variation of shall is often used to denote a stronger emotion or preference.
You should really stop saying that.
I think she should just go home.
Shall we dance?
Can is used to describe ability. Could, which is the past tense of can describes an ability which someone had in the past. Both can be used to ask for permission.
She can run really fast.
Julie Andrews could sing before her throat operation.
Could I take this seat?
May is used to ask for permission—it doesn’t denote ability, but rather refers to whether something is permissible or not. Might, which is the past-tense variation of may is used to convey a smaller window of possibility. Whereas must is used to convey obligation—something that needs to be done.
May I borrow your car?
I might go to London next week.
You must attend class.
To wrap up this lesson, it can be said that we were able to study auxiliary verbs and their functions. We were also able to use them in different sentences. Furthermore, we were able to specifically point out when and under what circumstances (permission, possibility, ability) they must be used.
Our next lesson will be about prepositions. We’ll be looking at the different prepositions and discussing their specific, individual uses. We’ll also be using all of them in sentences and will be giving plenty of examples so as to better help you understand how to use them.