Auxiliary verbs are verbs that help the main verb to express time, feeling, or the past tense. They usually have no special meaning and are helpful to express a grammatical phenomenon.
Auxiliary verbs are generally of two types:
- Primary auxiliary verbs – we will introduce these in this article.
- Modal auxiliary verbs – these are discussed in a separate article
Let’s take a look at the primary auxiliary verbs. In English, there are 3 primary auxiliary verbs that can be found in almost every sentence. All three are irregular verbs.
- To be
- To have
- To do
The auxiliary verb „to be“
In addition to being used as an auxiliary to the substantive verb, in some cases, it also serves as the main verb.
The verb “To be” can also take several forms. The basic forms include the following:
|I am||We are|
|You are||You are|
|He/She/It is||They are|
The verb “To be” also has special forms to express all tenses. Depending on them, this verb also appears in the forms:
To be as a meaning verb
Here the verb “to be” forms the basis of a sentence. When functioning as a main verb, it expresses someone’s existence (that something is somewhere).
- It is right there.
- There was a big cat in the garden.
To be as an primary auxiliary verb
The primary auxiliary verb “to be” helps to create sentences with a continuous character.
- She is running.
- My mum was watching TV.
- They will be cooking.
To be – past participle
The verb “to be” is also used to form the perfect past, present perfect or the future perfect tense.
- The car was parked by Lucy.
- A dog is fed by me.
Auxiliary Verb „to have“
Similarly, the primary auxiliary verb “to have” can take several different forms. It helps verbs of meaning form sentences of different tenses, but it can also form a sentence on its own and behave like a main verb.
Forms of the verb to have
The basic forms of this auxiliary verb include:
|I have||We have|
|You have||You have|
|He/She/It has||They have|
According to the use of the verb in time, there are forms:
To have as a meaning verb
Like all other auxiliary verbs, the verb “to have” can also function as a verb of meaning. In this case, it expresses the fact that someone owns something.
- I have laptop on my desk.
To have as an auxiliary verb
The verb “have” helps with the formation of perfective tenses. Its forms must therefore be used in tenses:
- I had felt it in my blood.
- She had been doing her homework.
- I have lived in UK.
- He has been eating sushi.
- They will have done this.
- I will have been studying Spanish.
Causative form with the auxiliary verb “to have”
The auxiliary verb “to have” is also used to describe causative forms. These are events that we cause but do not participate in.
- I had the carpet cleaned. (I had someone else clean the carpet, I didn’t clean it)
- I had him fix my phone.
The auxiliary verb „to do“
The verb “to do” is the third of the primary auxiliary verbs used to express various tenses and events. When “to do” is used as an auxiliary verb, no meaning is attached to it.
If we use it to express an action, it will act as the main verb of meaning.
It is used especially to express the present and past tenses.
The basic division:
|I do||We do|
|You do||You do|
|He/She/It does||They do|
According to the use of the primary auxiliary verb in time, there are forms:
To do as a meaning verb
When the verb “to do” is used as a main verb, it means that someone is doing something (physically).
- I do my homework.
- She did that.
To do as an auxiliary verb
The primary auxiliary verb “to do” is often used to express the imperative form.
- Do try it!
- Do eat my sauce!
To do in questions
It also helps to express questions.
- How did it go?
- What did she do to you?
It’s in the negative sentences
It is mainly used to form negative sentences in the present or past simple tense.
- Present tense simple – I don’t like it! / She does not like it!
- Past tense simple – She didn’t feel anything.
All auxiliary verbs also help to form question complements, which are always found at the end of a sentence.
- She is cute, isn’t she?
- You haven’t told me yet, have you?
- We got an extra seat, don’t we?