Auxiliary Verb


We can define auxiliary verb as, “An auxiliary verb is a verb that adds functional or grammatical meaning to the clause in which it appears such as to express tense, modality, aspect, voice, emphasis, etc.”


Auxiliary verbs (also called as helping verbs) are used with a main verb to show the verb’s tense, to form a negative sentence or to ask a question.

Generally, it accompanies a main verb which provides the main semantic content of the clause. It is used to add functional or grammatical meaning in several different ways to the clauses in which they appear.

It helps to express tense (past, present, or future), grammatical aspect (means how verb relates to the flow of time), modality (quantifies verbs) and voice (in order to describe relationship between verb’s action and participants identified by verb’s subject, object, etc). Most common auxiliary verbs are like: have, be, and do.

For example:

  • Does doctor write all his own reports?
  • Students haven’t written all the essays yet.
  • Tiara is sending an e-mail to her class teacher.


It is very important verb which can stand alone in all tenses including have, has, had, having, hadn’t or had not. It denotes the ownership in a sentence and discusses ability or describes appearance. It is used as substitute for the verbs “eat” and “drink.” Such as: “Let’s have breakfast.”


It is used as an action verb which can also stands alone in all tenses including to do, do, done, does, did, didn’t, did not or doesn’t. In order to make a complete verb phrase, it is paired up with another verb. It is also used to add emphasis in the sentence. We generally use ‘do’ to ask questions and make negated clauses.


It is also very important verb used as an action verb and stands alone in all tenses including to be, be, am, been, is, was, are, wasn’t, are not, were, aren’t, weren’t, was not, and were not. It also needs to be paired up with another verb in order to create a complete verb phrase. It can be present or past and singular or plural. It is used to make negative sentences by adding the word “not”.

List of Auxiliary Verbs

Following is the list of auxiliary verbs:

List of Common Auxiliary Verbs

There are three common auxiliary verbs:

  • Have (includes has, have, had, and having)
  • Do (includes does, do, and did)
  • Be (includes am, is, are, was, were, being and been)

List of Modal Auxiliary Verbs

There are some modal auxiliary verbs in addition to the three main auxiliary verbs. Modal auxiliary verbs never change form. Following are modal auxiliary verbs:

Can, could, may, might, must, ought to, shall, should, will, would, dare, need, ought, etc.

Examples and Use

Following are some examples showing the use of auxiliary verbs and verb phrases, such as:

  • He is taking me to the airport.
  • He didn’t arrive on time at airport.
  • Unfortunately, my breakfast has been eaten by the cat.
  • I have purchased a new book in place of one that was lost in school.
  • I don’t have your book lost in the school.
  • I was making cake for dessert in dinner.
  • He has been working hard all through the day.
  • Sarah doesn’t learn roller skate.
  • Did he bring lunch?

Rules/Tips to be Followed

Following are some rules and tips to use auxiliary verbs in the sentence:

  • More than one auxiliary verb can be used together in a sentence. A clause contains at least one main verb however they can have two, three, or perhaps even more auxiliary verbs, such as:

The papers will have been scrutinized by the English teacher. (This sentence contains three auxiliary verbs and one main verb). In this sentence, auxiliary verbs are ‘will, have, been’ and main verb is ‘scrutinized’.

  • Be, do, and have are auxiliary verbs which can also be stand-alone verbs in the sentence. Such auxiliary verbs teamed up with other verbs to complete the verb phrase.
  • All progressive tenses use a form of ‘be’. Present progressive tense uses pattern (am, is, or are + present participle), past progressive tense (was or were + present participle) and future progressive tense (will + be + present participle).
  • All perfect tenses use a form of ‘have’ (has, have, had, having). Present perfect tense follows a pattern (has or have + past participle), past perfect tense (had + past participle) and future perfect tense (will + have + past participle).
  • Emphatic tense is made by the use of form of ‘do’ (does, do, did, doing) as an auxiliary verb. It is used to ask questions or emphasizing an action. It uses patterns like (form of do + main verb) and (form of do + subject + main verb).
  • Modal auxiliary verbs (can, could, must, might, may, should, shall, will, ought to, would) have only one form and never change their form, so we cannot add ‘ed’, ‘ing’, or ‘s’ to the end of words. They follow a pattern (modal + main verb), (modal + be + present participle) and (modal + have + past participle).

Exercises for you

Auxiliary verb exercises given below will help you in analyzing your knowledge about auxiliary verb. Just go through all the details given above about the auxiliary verb and check your skill by doing following exercises for auxiliary verb. We have used auxiliary verbs in the following sentences; you need to check your skill by identifying auxiliary verbs in each sentence:

  1. What were they doing when he last saw them?
  2. Natalie has always wanted to try mountaineering.
  3. Where did they go in their summer vacation?
  4. Why do you think he didn’t give you money like she said she would?
  5. She is very upset when she heard about event.
  6. He doesn’t want to go to theatre; he wants to stay at school instead.
  7. She didn’t appreciate my jokes as they weren’t funny.
  8. I really like to eat veg but I don’t like paneer.
  9. Where were kids going when I saw them last night?
  10. She hasn’t called me yet; she has forgotten as usual.
  11. Do you want black coffee?
  12. He has given his all books.
  13. Do you like Chinese food?
  14. Do your parents speak Hindi?
  15. Did she come to swimming yesterday?
  16. Why is she talking? She should be listening to teacher!
  17. They were having bath when he called!
  18. A new swimming pool is being built behind the school.
  19. Have you completed your homework?
  20. My parents have never visited the UK.
  21. How long has she been living in USA?
  22. By this time next year she will has been playing Badminton for 35 years!
  23. I have denied her.
  24. I do not want to see this movie.
  25. She is not going to school today.
  26. She isn’t going to the theatre for dance.
  27. I haven’t seen her for years.
  28. I have not seen such movie ever.
  29. Why don’t you call your mother?
  30. Why didn’t you call me at your birthday?

Answers: 1 – were, 2 – has, 3 – did, 4 – didn’t, 5 – is, 6 – doesn’t, 7 – didn’t, 8 – don’t, 9 – were, 10 – hasn’t, 11 – do, 12 – has, 13 – do, 14 – do, 15 – did, 16 – is, 17 – were, 18 – is being, 19 – have, 20 – have, 21 – has, 22 – will has been, 23 – have, 24 – do not, 25 – is not, 26 – isn’t, 27 – haven’t, 28 – have not, 29 – don’t, 30 – didn’t

Related Information: 

Modal Auxiliary Verbs

More Information:


Finite Verb

Lexical Verb

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *