Primary Auxiliary verbs

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Primary auxiliary verbs

Primary auxiliary verbs

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:

Singular Plural
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 form
Was/were past
Being continuous
Been participle
Will be future

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:

Singular Plural
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 form
Had past
Having continuous
Had participle
Will have future

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:

Past perfect simple

  • I had felt it in my blood.

Past perfect continuous

  • She had been doing her homework.

Present perfect simple

  • I have lived in UK.

Present perfect continuous

  • He has been eating sushi.

Future perfect simple

  • They will have done this.

Future perfect continuous

  • 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:

Singular Plural
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 form
Did past
Doing continuous
Done participle
Will do future

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.

Questioning complements

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?
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