Teaching Students About an Auxiliary Verb

Define Auxiliaries: What are Auxiliary Verbs?

The definition of auxiliary verbs is verbs that form the tense, mood, and voice of other verbs. They are also known as ‘helping verbs.’ There are also primary auxiliary verbs. ‘Be ‘and ‘have’ are the primary auxiliaries. A primary auxiliary is used to construct compound tenses.

A simple definition of a verb is a word used to describe an action or occurrence.

The three most common auxiliary verbs are: ‘be, ‘have, do.’ Examples of each of these auxiliary verbs include:

  • To Be: am, is, are, was, were, being, been, will be.
  • To Have: has, have, had, having, will have.
  • To Do: does, do, did, will do.

The modal verbs ‘can, can, may, might, must, ought to, shall, should, will, and would’ are auxiliary verbs.

What are examples of auxiliary verbs?

1) ‘Be’ auxiliary verbs

‘Be’ can be an auxiliary or main verb in a sentence.

The ‘be’ auxiliary verbs are in bold in the examples below.

Used in a progressive sentence:

  1. I am going to school.
  2. She is playing basketball.
  3. They have been learning about verbs.

Used in a passive sentence:

  1. I was going to school.
  2. She was playing basketball.
  3. This lesson on verbs has been interesting.

2) ‘Have’ auxiliary verbs

‘Have’ is used to create the ‘present perfect tense’ and is always followed by the past participle.

‘Has’ is used to make it third-person singular.

‘Had’ is used to make a sentence past tense. It explains an action that started in the past but is still ongoing into the present, known as the ‘past perfect tense.’

Used in a perfect sentence:

  1. I have been walking to school.
  2. We have learned a lot today.
  3. They had been the best students.

3) ‘Do’ auxiliary verbs

Auxiliary verbs can be used to make questions and negative statements.

‘Do’ and ‘does’ are frequently used to make questions and negatives.

‘Did’ is used to replace ‘do’ and ‘does’ to make a sentence past tense.

Examples of statements:

  1. I do my schoolwork.
  2. You do your schoolwork.
  3. We do our schoolwork.
  4. They do their schoolwork.
  5. He/she does their schoolwork.

Examples of questions:

  1. Do I want one?
  2. Do you want one?
  3. Do we want one?
  4. Do they want one?
  5. Does he/she want one?
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