Auxiliary verbs: An introduction
We have frequently received various emails from hundreds of readers of this site who had requested us to discuss auxiliary verbs in detail. So we have decided to have a complete discussion on this wonderful topic about “Auxiliary Verbs” in a simple and lucid language.No intricate terms will be used for they become an obstacle in the way of understanding the concepts properly. Within one month the students will feel quite at home in choosing and using auxiliary verbs. Let’s start:
Auxiliary verbs are also called helping verbs or special verbs. These are the verbs which are not used alone ( except primary auxiliary which can be used as an independent verb) but in conjunction with other verbs to form a tense, mood, question etc. Auxiliary verbs have certain features that distinguish them from main verbs. These salient features of auxiliary verbs are as under:
Auxiliary verbs are used to form negatives
1. He is not a good person.
2. A whale does not lay eggs.
3. Ali has not given me the book.
4. Muzamil cannot speak English well.
Auxiliary verbs are used to form questions
1. Is your friend married?
2. Does Irfan work hard?
3. Has he given you the book?
4. Can you drive a car?
5. Can a fish climb trees?
6. Are you going to school?
They verbs are used to form question tags
1. Your brother looks well, doesn’t he?
2. She is a nice person, isn’t she?
3. He has a smart personality, hasn’t he?
4. Can you drive a car,can’ t you?
5. You are not busy, are you?
6. She can’t play the piano, can she?
Note: For positive statements, negative question tags are used and for negative statements, positive question tags are used as per the following pattern:
i) Auxiliary + n’t + subject ( for positive statements)
ii) Auxiliary + subject ( for negative statements)
Auxiliary verbs are classified into three types. These are given as below:
1) Primary Auxiliary Verbs,
2) Modal Auxiliary Verbs and
3) Semi-modal Auxiliary Verbs.
Now let us discuss them one by one.
1) Primary Auxiliary Verbs:
Primary auxiliary verbs can be used both as lexical verbs( full verbs) as well as helping verbs.
She is a beautiful girl.
I have a new laptop.
She does her work daily.
In the above sentences, primary auxiliaries are used as independent verbs or we can say as lexical verbs. As auxiliary verbs they are used in the following sentences:
She is dancing very beautifully.
Abid is writing an article.
I have finished my work.
She does not run fast.
Did they go there?
There are three primary auxiliary verbs. They are “Be, Do and Have”.
a) “Be” is the First main auxiliary verb. It has different forms. They are “am, is, are, was, were, being and been”. It is the only verb in English which has eight forms.
b) “Do” is the second main auxiliary verb. It has different forms. They are “do, does and did”.
c) “Have” is the third main auxiliary verb. It has different forms. They have, has, had and have.
Let’s discuss the primary auxiliary verbs one by one first as lexical verbs and then as auxiliary verbs.
”Be” as a lexical verb
‘Be’ is a special verb in English. It is the only verb with eight forms. These eight forms are :
am ,is, are = present forms
was, were = past forms
be ,being ,been =non-finite forms
‘ Be’ as a lexical verb means:
i) To exist
Whatever is, it is right.
To be or not to be, that is the question.
Ali is here.
ii) To occupy a place or position
Mughal Gardens are in Kashmir.
Lakshadweep Islands are in the Arabian Sea.
iii) To ‘ take place’
The funeral was a day later.
The party is scheduled tonight.
‘Be’ as an auxiliary verb is used to form progressives with present participles (singing) and passives with past participles(sung).
Ali is playing the piano.
She is writing a book.
They are digging the land with the shovel.
The children were picking the butterflies.
The article is written by her.
The telephone was invented by Bell.
He is being taught by Ali.
Quinine is bitter when tasted.
Have as a lexical verb
Have as a lexical verb has various meanings. It is used to as;
I have the latest car.
Ali has a big house.
She had a beautiful gold necklace.
We are having a wonderful time here.
We had unforgettable days with you.
Do you have tea in the morning?
Does she have his advice?
A cat has four legs and a tail.
The garden has colourful flowers.
Note: When we use to have as a lexical verb to mean possession, we do not use it within. It is wrong to say:
What lovely hair you are having.
He is having a car and a bungalow.
Have as an auxiliary verb
i) Have is used with past participles ( third forms of the verb) to form perfectives. Some examples are hereunder:
I have completed this work.
She has read the book.
He has already passed the exam.
They had finished the meeting.
Ali had eaten the food when I reached his home.
” Have to” is used with the infinitive to indicate obligation:
I have to be there by 5 o’ clock.
He has to move the furniture by himself.
Ali had to join with them on time.
In negatives and questions, ”have to” and ” had to” are used with doing, does and did:
They have to go.
~ They do not have to go.
~Do they have to go.
Do as a lexical verb
Do as a lexical verb means to perform. Like “be” and “have”, it can be used as a verb with full meaning:
He did his work in time.
She does that you know.
Do as an auxiliary verb
Do, does, did as auxiliary verbs have no meanings. However, they have very important usage in the English language as follows:
i) Do is used to frame negatives of present simple and past simple sentences as follows:
Abid drives a car.~ Abid does not drive a car.
She likes the pigeons.~She does not like the pigeons.
I play the lyre.~ I do not play the lyre.
She liked mangoes.~She did not like mangoes.
Ali left last night.~ Ali did not leave last night.
ii) Do is used to form the question of the sentences that do not contain a helping verb as follows:
He likes mango juice.~ Does he like mango juice?
His methods bring success.~Do his methods bring success?
He left last night.~ Did he leave last night?
iii) Do is also used to form question tags as follows:
She likes tea, doesn’t she?
You play the piano, do you?
She does not like tea, does she?
She did not like tea, did she?
iv) Do is used to form negatives of imperatives. Some examples are given as below:
Shut the window.
Don’t shut the window.
Shot the fire.
Don’t shot the fire.
Don’t be silly.
Obey your teachers.
Don’ t obey your teachers
v) In some sentences do is used to persuade to do something:
Do come in.
Do be quiet.
Do have another pizza.
In such cases do is strongly stressed. Sometimes do is used when we want to be emphatic. Here are some examples;
You do look pale.
I told him not to go but he did go.
2) Modal Auxiliary Verbs:
Dear friends, the second type of Auxiliary verbs is “modal auxiliary verbs”. These are the helping verbs that can not be used as lexical verbs( independent verbs). They are sometimes called defective verbs because some other verbs( lexical verbs) are wanting in them. They have no third person singular form(- s form). Besides, they have also no infinitive or – ing forms. There are modal auxiliary verbs. They are “can, could, may, might, will, would, shall, should, must and ought to”. For each modal auxiliary verb, there are many structures and many usages. We will learn now Semi-modal auxiliary verbs.
3) Semi-modal Auxiliary Verbs:
The third type is Semi-modal auxiliary verbs. There are five Semi-Modal Auxiliary verbs. They are “need, dare, used to, have to and Had better”.
Friends, there is a controversy about the number of semi-modal auxiliary verbs. Seme of the grammar books say “there are five semi-modal auxiliary verbs”. Some grammar books say “there are only four. Some websites say” there are three”. But we will have no problem. Because we will discuss all the available semi-modal auxiliary verbs in the coming days. Be in touch. You can also subscribe for free to get notifications from the lessons that will be published from time to time.
“Auxiliary verbs” has another name. These are also called “helping verbs”. Auxiliary verbs are of three types.
1) Primary Auxiliary verbs. Its other name is “Main helping Verbs”.
2) Modal auxiliary verbs. It has two other names. They are “Modals or Modal verbs”.
3) Semi-modal Auxiliary verbs. It has two other names. They are “Semi-modals or Semi-modal verbs”.
Dear Friends, now we have a thorough discussion of the primary auxiliary verbs (Be, Do and Have). You should be able to give answers to the following questions
1)How many types of auxiliary verbs are there? And what are they?
2)How many primary auxiliary verbs are there? And what are they?
3)How many modal auxiliary verbs are there? And what are they?
4) How many semi-modal Auxiliary verbs are there? And what are they?
Dear Friends, write these questions in a notebook. Then write their answers too in your notebook. Please read this lesson again and again. Then you will be able to give answers to these questions wonderfully. Please don’t forget to send your thoughts in the comment section below.