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primary auxiliary verb

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  Ed Good  —  Grammar Tips
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We have roughly 16 auxiliary verbs in the English language. Three are called primary auxiliaries: to be, to have, and to do. These three words perform special functions.

The verb to be forms the passive voice (The ball was hit by John) and the progressive tense (John was hitting the ball).

The verb to have forms the perfect tenses (I have decided to retire).

The verb to do enables us to negate or to ask questions (He did not write the book, Do you mind?).

Notice that each of these verbs can act as a main verb as well, as in I am happy, He has a lot of money, and He does his own thing.

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  • Wisdom Kofi Kumordzi
    Wisdom Kofi Kumordzi
    I beg to differ from the assertion that, we have only 16 auxiliary verbs
    LikeReply5 years ago
  • Bsiv Sandal Nursery Dindigul
    Bsiv Sandal Nursery Dindigul
    In a website I have read that the auxiliary verbs which function as main (primary) verbs in a sentence are called Primary Auxiliary verbs. Is this correct?
    LikeReply6 years ago
    • Sage Kaleke
      Sage Kaleke
      The word auxiliary itself means, supporting. Auxiliary verbs support main verbs, which is why, they are also called helping verbs. The question is, who do they help? Well, they help the main verbs. So, answer to your question is, "No, Primary auxiliary verbs are not main verbs." Primary and Modal auxiliary verbs are components of auxilliary verbs. 
      LikeReply 14 years ago
    • Sage Kaleke
      Sage Kaleke
      To add on, primary auxiliaries can 'work as' main verbs, so maybe, you're confusing that.
      LikeReply4 years ago


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  • A. He had did his best, but it wasn't enough.
  • B. She had went to the store before dinner.
  • C. They had already finished their homework when the phone rang.
  • D. We had saw that movie three times.

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