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Auxiliary Verb

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2:39 min read
  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips
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Verbs are one of the first parts of speech a child learns about in high school. They are the main building blocks of a sentence and English grammar is incomplete about them. We all know that a verb is an action word that describes the action taking place in a sentence. That is the simplest form of verb described and known to every learner of English language. But if you want to reach an advanced level of English, then you must know that verb has a few kinds and types as well. One such type of verb is auxiliary verb which we will discuss in detail today.

Auxiliary Verb

By definition, an auxiliary verb is a helping verb which helps describe another verb. An irregular verb that is used in a sentence to provide information about the main verb in the same sentence is called an auxiliary verb.


Susan talked about her makeup skills.

Susan is always talking about her makeup skills.

Consider the above two examples. In the first example, a single verb talked is used which describes the quick action of the subject (Susan). This example does not contain an auxiliary verb.

In the second example however, two verbs are used i.e. is and talking. Here talking is the main verb and is is the auxiliary or helping verb which describes that Susan has a habit of talking about her makeup skills. The auxiliary verb helped define something about the main verb (in this example, the frequency of Susan’s talking).

The mostly used auxiliary verbs in sentences include be, do and have.

Be: am/is/are/was/were/being/been

Do: does/did

Have: has/had/having

One thing to keep in mind is that be, do and have can also be used as a main verb in a sentence. You should be very careful while identifying them as auxiliary verbs and make sure that they have to assist the main verb in a sentence to be classified as auxiliary verb.

Example of Be:

He is angry with Anna for abandoning him during the show.

He is ignoring Anna for abandoning him during the show.

Consider the above two examples;

In the first example, is is the linking verb and not an auxiliary verb as it does not add a meaning to the verb angry but is only linking angry to the sentence.

In the second example, is is the auxiliary verb as it describes the action taking place and completes the verb phrase.

One easy way to recognize the auxiliary verb is that it is mostly followed by participle tense i.e. –ing.

Example of Do:

The secretary did as told.

The secretary did complete all the files in time.

The first example uses did as the main action verb whereas the second example uses did as the auxiliary verb which describes the main action complete.

Example of Have:

Martha has a toddler son.

Martha has given birth to triplets.

The first example used has as a main verb while the second example used has as a helping/auxiliary verb that describes the main verb given.



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