Grammar Helping Verbs: Examples of Helping Verbs |
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Helping Verbs: Examples of Helping Verbs

Helping verbs (also referred to as modal and auxiliary verbs): Are you familiar with what they are and how they help other verbs? Whether you are or not, this grammar post will further clarify them for you.

What Helping Verbs Are

It’s easy to pick up the verb in a simple sentence. You just look for the action word. For example:

Jim walks quickly.

Walks is the action being taken, so that’s the verb. However, when we start to string together more sentences, there might be multiple verbs. In some cases, there will be a secondary verb that extends or adds meaning or context to the main verb.

This isn’t as complicated as it sounds. In fact, you probably use helping verbs every day. Let’s return to our example featuring Jim:

Jim is walking quickly.

Now we have two verbs. The main verb is walking. The word is has been added to “help” provide more information about the main verb. In this case, the helping verb (is) gives us information about the tense of the action. The action is taking place in the present progressive (a current action in current time).

Together, the helping verb and the main verb add clarity and context. If we say Jim walks, that action can apply to any place and any time. By saying Jim is walking, we know his action is happening now.

Three Common Helping Verbs

Once you understand the principle of helping verbs, finding and using them gets much easier. You can also begin to recognize many of their common forms. These forms also can change depending on whether they are indicating past, present, or future action. They can be singular or plural as well.

Here are some helping-verb varieties you probably use every day:

To be: is, am, are, was, were, will be

To have: have, has, had, will have

To do: do, does, did, will do

Examples
We were shopping at the mall yesterday.

Joan had been unaware of that until you informed her.

Chris will do what is required to make the delivery on time.

Let’s look at yet a few more examples:

The dog was eating the food in the bowl.

Janine has visited her mother.

If you’re wondering, Robert did rehearse for several weeks before opening night.

Pop Quiz

Identify the helping verbs in the following sentences.

  1. Christy will be dancing at the wedding.
  2. Did you bake that cake on the counter?
  3. You have slept longer than usual today.
  4. I am flying to Cleveland next month.
  5. Bruce was seen by a specialist at the clinic.

 

Pop Quiz Answers

  1. Christy will be dancing at the wedding.
  2. Did you bake that cake on the counter?
  3. You have slept longer than usual today.
  4. I am flying to Cleveland next month.
  5. Bruce was seen by a specialist at the clinic.

 

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