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Helping verbs or Auxiliary verbs



As we studied in the topic  Verbs – the real sense makers, Helping verbs or Auxiliary verbs are used to change ‘infinitive  verbs’ ( verbs without  tense forms)  into  ‘finite verbs’ ( verbs with  tense forms )

           ’24’  Auxiliaries  are there in total  and  are classified into two groups,

(1)  Primary  Auxiliaries and  

(2) Modal Auxiliaries.



Primary Auxiliaries are ‘11′ in total and they are,

‘is’ , ‘am’, ‘are’, was, ‘were’,

‘do’, ‘does’, ‘did’,

‘has’,  ‘have’,  ‘had’.


  • ‘is’,  ‘am’, ‘are’, ‘was’, ‘were’  are called  ‘Be’-forms.   That is,  the different forms of the  verb ‘Be’.

To specify it,  we can say that  ‘is’, ‘am’,’ are’   are  commonly the present forms  and  ‘was’, ‘were’  are commonly the Past forms of  ‘Be’.



‘is’, ‘am’, ‘are’  ——————  ‘simple present forms’

‘was’, ‘were”      —————-  ‘simple past forms’

‘Has been’, ‘Have been’ — ‘present perfect forms’

 ‘Had been’                      — ‘past perfect form’

 ‘Being’        — ————     ‘present participle form’   

 ‘Been’        —————–   ‘past participle form’


  • ‘Do’, ‘does’ ,’did’  are the different forms of the verb  ‘Do’

‘Do’ and ‘does’ are the ‘simple present forms’  and  ‘did’ is the ‘simple past form’ of the verb ‘Do’.

Here the first  ‘do’  is  an ‘auxiliary verb’ and the main ‘Do’ is an ‘infinitive verb’ and also the meaning is different.

Eg:  I ‘do’ work from morning to evening.

        ‘Do’ you work from morning to evening.

In the first example ‘do‘ is the ‘auxiliary verb’ of the infinitive verb ‘work’

And in the second one the  ‘do’  itself  is the  ‘infinitive’.

(The ‘past participle form’ of ‘do’ is  ‘done’.)


  • ‘Has’ , ‘have’ , ‘had’ are the forms of the verb ‘Have’

‘Has’ and ‘have’ are the ‘present forms’ and ‘had’ is ‘the past form’ of  ‘Have’

The verb ‘Have’ has different meanings such as  ‘own’, ‘feel’, ‘drink’ , ‘eat’, ‘take’, etc….

(The past participle form of  ‘Have’ is also ‘had’.)

We studied that the main function of Auxiliaries is to help the infinitive verbs become finite verbs.  Yet some of them can also stand itself as finite verbs.

To clear it,  let’s look at the following examples.

(a)  Martin  ‘is’  ‘playing’  base ball 

In this example we can see the auxiliary verb  ‘is’  ( the present form of  ‘Be’)  helps the verb ‘playing’  ( the continuous form of the verb ‘play’)  to show that the continuing action ‘play’ is happening in the present tense.  So we can understand that the action is continuing in the present tense,  and  decide that the sentence is in present continuous tense.

(b) Mathew  ‘is’ friendly to his students.

Here we can see  ‘is’ ( the present form of ‘Be’) stands here itself as a ‘finite verb’ and  not as an ‘auxiliary  verb’.

So  ‘is’ is used to show how the  subject ‘Mathew’ is to his students.

Hence, we can understand that the auxiliary verbs that can ‘help the infinitives  get  particular tense forms ‘ and   stand  ‘as finite verbs’  are called  ‘primary auxiliaries’.

‘Its peculiarity of standing as finite verbs gives them an another name, called  ‘Primary Verbs’

Two more examples are given below.

Merlin ‘has’ attended the party ( here ‘has’ is an auxiliary verb )

George ‘has’ an opinion in any topic. ( here ‘has’ is a finite verb)



Auxiliaries that can only help the ‘main verbs’ ( infinitives ) and cannot  stand as ‘finite verbs’ are called Modal Auxiliaries.

The ’13’ Modal Auxiliaries are listed below:

‘Will’, ‘would’, ‘shall’, ‘should’,  ‘can’, ‘could’, ‘may’, ‘might’, ‘must’, ‘need’, ‘dare’, ‘used to’, ‘ought to’.

Of these,  ‘need’, ‘dare’, ‘used to’ and ‘ought to’ are often considered as ‘semi modals’

Modal Auxiliaries are used to express emotional or mental moods.


Helping verbs or Auxiliary verbs  have a vital role  in   CONCORD , and also in confirming the tense of the verbs.


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