VerbAbout VerbsAction VerbsCausative VerbsContractionsDo and MakeFinite and Nonfinite VerbsGerundInfinitive FormInversionLinking VerbsModal VerbsMay and MightMoodsPhrasal VerbsSay and TellShallStative VerbsThird Person SingularUsed toRegular VerbsIrregular VerbsVerb FormsCompound Verbs
ConditionalConditionalZero ConditionalFirst ConditionalSecond ConditionalThird ConditionalMixed ConditionalInversion in Conditional Sentences
Passive VoicePassive VoicePresent Simple PassivePresent Continuous PassivePast Simple PassivePast Continuous PassivePerfect Tenses PassiveFuture Simple PassiveGoing to PassiveSay / Believe / SupposeGet + Participle
Adverbs of FrequencyAdverbs of FrequencyAdverbs of Frequency - Position in Sentence
QuestionsQuestion TagsRhetorical QuestionsEcho Questions
Reported SpeechReported SpeechModals in Reported SpeechReported Commands and RequestsReported QuestionsPresent Perfect in Reported SpeechFuture Perfect in Reported Speech
Irregular VerbsIrregular Verbs - GroupsIrregular Verbs - Forms
ParticiplesPresent ParticiplePast ParticiplePerfect Participle
Other TopicsWill vs. Going toIf / Even if / Whether / Unless If + Were or If + WasAs If / As Though + Past SubjunctiveHabits Expressed by Will and WouldHad BetterSubject
Read MoreAuxiliary VerbsAuxiliary Verbs: To BeAuxiliary Verbs: To HaveAuxiliary Verbs: To DoWhen To Use the Verb To Be
Grammar

Auxiliary Verbs

On this page you'll find out what an auxiliary verb is and how to use it.

Auxiliary verbs (called helping verbs) don't mean anything when they are alone, but when in a sentence, they help complete the form and meaning of main verbs. Using auxiliary verbs, you can build sentences in different tenses, moods, or voices. The most common are:

There are two verbs in each of these sentences:

Subject

Auxiliary verb

Main verb

Rest of the sentence

I

have

lost

my keys.

She

doesn't

like

this band.

The hotel

was

built

ten years ago.

In the above examples, the verbs in italic are auxiliary verbs.

Now that you know what an suxiliary verb is, let's see how they can be used in greater detail.

Short Answers

Use an auxiliary verb when you want to avoid repeating some part of your sentence (because it can be deduced from the context):

  • Person A: Have you locked the door?
  • Person B: Yes, I have. (instead of I have locked the door.)
  • George wasn't working, but Janet was. (instead of Janet was working.)
  • She could lend me the money, but she won't. (instead of She won't lend me the money.)
  • Person A: Are you angry with me?
  • Person B: Of course I'm not. (instead of I'm not angry.)

Use do, does or did for the Present and Past Simple:

  • Person A: Do you like onions?
  • Person B: Yes, I do (instead of I like onions.)
  • Person A: Does Mark smoke?
  • Person B: He used to, but now he doesn't any more (instead of He used to smoke, but now he doesn't smoke any more).

Polite Interests

Apart from that, phrases such as have you?, isn't she? or do they? and so on, can be used to show polite interest in what somebody has said:

  • Person A: I have just met Simon.
  • Person B: Oh, have you. How is he?

Sometimes we use these short questions to show surprise:

  • Person A: Jim and Nora are getting married.
  • Person B: Are they?

We use auxiliary verbs with so and neither:

  • Person A: I'm feeling tired.
  • Person A: So am I. (instead of I'm feeling tired too.)
  • Person A: I never read newspapers.
  • Person B: Neither do I. (instead of I never read newspapers either.)
  • Sue hasn't got a car and neither has Martin.

Note the word order after so and neither (verb before subject):

  • I passed the exam and so did Tom. (not: so Tom did)

You can use nor instead of neither:

  • Person A: I can't remember his name. Person B: Nor can I. Or: Neither can I.

You can also use not...either.

  • Person A: I haven't got any money. Person B: Neither have I. Or: Nor have I. Or: I haven't either.

I think so / I hope so

After certain verbs you can use so if you don't want to repeat something:

  • Person A: Are those people English? Person B: I think so. Meaning: I think they are English.
  • Person A: Will you be at home tomorrow morning? Person B: I expect so. Meaning: I expect I'll be at home.
  • Person A: Do you think Kate has been invited to the party? Person B: I suppose so. You can also say: I hope so, I guess so and I'm afraid so.

Negative Forms

I think so / I expect so

I don't think so / I don't expect so

I hope so / I'm afraid so /I guess so

I hope not / I'm afraid not / I guess not

I suppose so

I don't suppose so or I suppose not

Do you think it's going to rain?

I think so. / I don't think so.

Is that woman American?

I hope so. / I hope not. (not I don't hope so)

Auxiliary Verbs: Compound Tenses and Voices

A compound tense is connected with an auxiliary verb, such as have. The present is a simple tense e,g. l work, the past is also simple I worked, but the perfect is compound: I have worked. Have is the auxiliary verb. Some compound tenses have two auxiliaries such as the Future Perfect: I shall have worked.

I. Auxiliary Verb to be

a) Progresive

  • Present Progressive: He is playing basketball.
  • Past Progressive: He was playing basketball.
  • Present Perfect Progressive: He has been playing basketball.
  • Past Perfect Progressive: He had been playing basketball.

b) Passive

  • Simple Present/Past: The school is/was built.
  • Present/Past Perfect: The school has/had been built.
  • Future I: The school will be built.

II. Auxiliary Verb to have

a) Active

  • Present Perfect Simple: He has played basketball.
  • Past Perfect Simple: He had played basketball.
  • Present Perfect Progressive: He has been playing basketball.
  • Past Perfect Progressive: He had been playing basketball.

b) Passive

 Present/Past Perfect:

  • The school has/had been built.

Check your understanding!

VerbAbout VerbsAction VerbsCausative VerbsContractionsDo and MakeFinite and Nonfinite VerbsGerundInfinitive FormInversionLinking VerbsModal VerbsMay and MightMoodsPhrasal VerbsSay and TellShallStative VerbsThird Person SingularUsed toRegular VerbsIrregular VerbsVerb FormsCompound Verbs
ConditionalConditionalZero ConditionalFirst ConditionalSecond ConditionalThird ConditionalMixed ConditionalInversion in Conditional Sentences
Passive VoicePassive VoicePresent Simple PassivePresent Continuous PassivePast Simple PassivePast Continuous PassivePerfect Tenses PassiveFuture Simple PassiveGoing to PassiveSay / Believe / SupposeGet + Participle
Adverbs of FrequencyAdverbs of FrequencyAdverbs of Frequency - Position in Sentence
QuestionsQuestion TagsRhetorical QuestionsEcho Questions
Reported SpeechReported SpeechModals in Reported SpeechReported Commands and RequestsReported QuestionsPresent Perfect in Reported SpeechFuture Perfect in Reported Speech
Irregular VerbsIrregular Verbs - GroupsIrregular Verbs - Forms
ParticiplesPresent ParticiplePast ParticiplePerfect Participle
Other TopicsWill vs. Going toIf / Even if / Whether / Unless If + Were or If + WasAs If / As Though + Past SubjunctiveHabits Expressed by Will and WouldHad BetterSubject
Read MoreAuxiliary VerbsAuxiliary Verbs: To BeAuxiliary Verbs: To HaveAuxiliary Verbs: To DoWhen To Use the Verb To Be