Helping Verbs – Examples

Verbs help convey a particular action taken up by a person. They are a basic unit in English grammar commonly used to help express a complete idea or thought.

While the basic understanding of verbs is that they express actions performed by someone on something to someone else, different types under verbs have variant functions and purposes. One such type is known as helping verbs. They are a type of verb that helps the main verb in a sentence and forms a verb phrase.

List of Homophones | Homophones Exa...
List of Homophones | Homophones Examples

Let us get into a detailed discussion with some examples to understand the functions of a helping verb in different contexts.

What are helping verbs?

Helping verbs are the type of verbs that accompany the main verb in the sentence and help them. They are called helping verbs because they cannot stand alone and have no meaning on their own. They provide detail to the main action verb and complete its structure.

So, helping verbs are used to extend the meaning of the main verb. These helping verbs can further be divided into two categories. They are auxiliary verbs and modal verbs.

Auxiliary verbs

Auxiliary verbs are the type of helping verb that adds meaning to the clause. They aim at adding and expressing tense and emphasis on the particular action verb used in the clause. This type of helping verb is the most common type used in every other sentence.

There are three categories of auxiliary verbs, each having multiple forms. They are “to be,” “to do,” and “to have”.

  • To be – is, am, are, was, be, been, were.
  • To do – does, do, did.
  • To have – has, have, had.

Let us understand with some examples.

  • I am writing a new book.
  • She was making lunch for her son.
  • I have cooked chicken before.
  • I do love reading novels.

Modal verbs

Modal verb is the type of helping verb that tries to modify the main verb. They try to show the necessity, obligation, or possibility of the main verb in the sentence.

The modal verbs are – could, can, may, might, will, would, must, ought to, shall, and should, etc.

Let us understand with some examples.

I will play solo.
I wish I could cook better.
She should practice more.
I ought to return the money.

So, these are the types of helping verbs. Their main aim is to help the main verb by extending its meaning and finalizing its structure.

Usage of helping verbs

These helping verbs are mainly used to form progressive and perfect verb tenses.

Helping verbs like auxiliary verbs are used to show the aspect of time of a particular action in sentences in progressive and perfect aspects.

In progressive forms, the helping verbs usually show something that is ongoing. Here, mainly the auxiliary verbs are put to use. For example;

I am going to the store.

And in perfect form, the helping verbs are used to indicate something that is ongoing and will be finished at a point in time. It can be past, present, or future. Here, the verb forms to be, to do, to have are used. For example;

  • I have worked at Starbucks for a long time.
  • She has been crying since morning.

So, these are points that will help understand helping verbs precisely and correctly.

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