What are Auxiliaries, Auxiliary Verbs, or Helping Verbs?

What are auxiliaries or helping verbs in English

Auxiliaries (sometime auxiliary verbs or helping verbs) are one of the types of verb in English grammar. Auxiliaries are basically helping elements that add meaning or additional information to the basic meaning of the main verb in a clause or a sentence. 

Auxiliary verbs are also called helping verb and used with main verbs to help express the main verb’s mood, tense, or voice with in a clause or a sentence.

Types of Auxiliaries or Helping Verbs

Auxiliaries or helping verbs are categorized in two major categories:

(1) Main auxiliaries or main helping verbs

(2) Modal auxiliaries or modal verbs

Main Auxiliaries or Main Helping Verbs

The main auxiliary verbs or main helping verbs are be, have, and do. Main helping verbs are generally categorized into further two categories: Primary auxiliaries and supporting auxiliaries.

 (1) Primary auxiliaries

Be and have are known as primary auxiliaries and appear in the different forms according to their function in the sentence. There forms are:

  • Be, am, is, are, was, were, being, been, will be
  • Have, has, have, had, having, will have

Be is used for expressing tense (present continuous and past continuous) or passive form of the sentence. Look at Examples:

  • She is singing. (Showing tense)
  • We were playing hockey. (Showing tense)
  • The cakes were eaten by hungry boys. (Passive form)

Have is used for expressing tense (Present perfect and past perfect) or passive form of the sentence. Look at Examples:

  • Ali has finished eating.
  • She had already accepted my proposal.

  (2) Supporting auxiliaries

Do is known as supporting auxiliary verb and appear in the different forms according to its functions in the sentence. Its forms are:

  • Do, does, do, did, will do

It is used to form question, negatives, and emphatic sentences. Look at examples to understand its function.

  • Do you like mangoes? (Question)
  • I do not play cricket. (Negative)
  • I do like watching movies. (Emphatic)

Modal Auxiliary Verbs

Besides the three main auxiliaries, be, have, and do, there are some additional auxiliary verbs. We know these auxiliary verbs as modal verbs or modal auxiliaries. These modals have a verity of communicative functions and give additional information about the function of the main verb that follows it. All the modals have fixed form and do not accept an addition of prefix or suffix like “ed”, “s”, “ing” “un” etc. The main function of these modal auxiliaries is to show modality allow speakers to express possibility, certainty, obligation, necessity, willingness, ability, etc. There are nine modal auxiliaries: can, could, may, might, must, will, shall, would, and should.