Auxiliary Verbs


Auxiliary Verbs

Auxiliary Verbs

Auxiliary Verbs

Auxiliary Verbs

You have already learned that English Verbs are broadly divided into two classes-Principal Verbs and Auxiliary Verbs.

Mind the following underlined verbs in the following sentences:

Karishma has a red pen.

They have a new ball.

I have an English Dictionary.

In the above sentences, the underlined verbs have their own meaning as they express the sense of having or belonging something to the agent (subject). These are Principal Verbs.

The verb which has a meaning of its own is called a Principal Verb. Principal Verbs are called Main Verbs or Full Verbs also.

Now mind the following verbs:

Nalini has gone to market.

We have done our homework.

I have seen the Tajmahal.

The underlined words i.e. ‘has’ and ‘have’ in the above sentences are used as verbs, but they have no meaning of their own. They have only helped the main verbs go, do and see to make the Present Perfect Tense. These are Auxiliary Verbs. (Auxiliary means helping).

The Verbs which help other verbs to form other tenses than the Simple Present or the Simple Past are called Auxiliary Verbs.

There are 24 Auxiliary Verbs in the English language. They are: 

Present ….. Past

Am, Is ….. was

Are ….. were

Have, Has ….. had 

Shall ….. should

Will ….. would

May ….. might 

Can ….. could

Do, Does ….. did,

Must     …..

Ought (to), …..

Dare, …..

Need …..

….. Used (to).

Among these Auxiliary Verbs am, is, are, was and were are called Be Verbs.

The use of Auxiliary Verbs is multifunctional and different in some way from the usual so they are called Anomalous Finite Verbs also.

Again the Auxiliary Verbs are divided into two classes as, Primary Auxiliaries and Modal Auxiliaries.

Let us discuss their functions as below:

Auxiliary Verbs

A. Primary Auxiliaries

Be (and its different forms as am, is, was, are, were), do, did, does, have,  has as and had are called Primary Auxiliaries. The Primary Auxiliaries generally help other Finite Verbs to express a statement of facts. The Primary Auxiliaries, besides being used as auxiliaries, are sometimes used as Principal Verbs.

The Primary Auxiliaries when help other verbs taking place before them are used as Auxiliaries. And when they complete the sense of a sentence being used alone (without any other verb in a sentence) then they are called to be used as Principal Verbs or Regular verbs. Notice the following sentences:

(a) I am doing my duty. (Here ‘am’ is used as an Auxiliary Verb)

I am a teacher. (Here ‘am’ is used as Main or Regular Verb).

(b) I have eaten the piece of melon. (used as Auxiliary Verb)

I have a new umbrella. (used as Main or Regular Verb)

The uses of Primary Auxiliaries are illustrated below:

1. The Uses of ‘Be’

A. ‘Be’ as Principal Verb:

1. ‘Be’ and its different forms are used as linking verbs. They link the subject of a sentence with the words that follow them as in the following sentences:

(a) Geeta is a singer. (links with a Noun)

(b) They are very shrewd. (links with an Adjective)

(c) Hari was here. (links with an Adverb)

(d) The doctor is to go. (Links with an Infinitive)

(e) The box is in the shelf. (links with an Adverb Phrase)

2. ‘Be’ is used to mean an order, suggestion or request, as:

(a) Be courteous to all.

(b) Be off from the hall.

(c) Be calm and sit here.

(d) Be an honest boy.

3. ‘Be’ is used to mean existence:

The soul is, therefore I am.

God is, therefore we are.

Raman is in the sea.

B. ‘Be’ as Auxiliary Verb:

1. To form Present Continuous and Past Continuous Tense, as:

(a) I am writing a novel.

(b) Karishma was coaching the team.

(c) They were playing Volleyball.

2. To transform a sentence of Active Voice to Passive Voice, as:

(a) The work is done

(b) The students were punished.

(c) The boy was praised.

3. To form Present or Past Tense with the Past Participle forms of some Intransitive verbs, as:

(a) She is gone.

(b) Heema is come.

(c) They are run out.

2. The Uses of ‘Have’

A. ‘Have’ as Principal Verb:

1. ‘Have’ is used to mean ‘eating of something’.

I have my supper in a hotel.

She has her breakfast at 7. a.m.

Ram had his dinner at home.

2. ‘Have’ is used to mean belonging something to an agent:

I have a new car.

We have a garden in Delhi.

My cousin has a yellow pen.

3. ‘Have’ is used to mean a feeling, condition or experience:

Kanak has a skin disease.

She has a headache.

Rajani has a bad cold.

4. ‘Have’ is used to mean receiving or getting something.

I have good news for him.

She has a letter every day from her mother.

Ranaki has a guest every week.

B. ‘Have’ as Auxiliary Verb:

1. ‘Have’ and ‘Has’ is used before the Past Participle form of a Principal Verb to from Present perfect tense:

I have performed my duty.

She has arrived just now.

Arshad has done the mistake.

Kamala and Rina have gone there.

2. ‘Had’ the past form of ‘Have’ is used with the Past Participle form of a Principal Verb to form Past Perfect Tense:

I  had done the work.

They had played the game.

Rajib had finished the homework before noon.

3. The Uses of ‘Do’

A. ‘Do’ as Principal Verb:

1. ‘Do’ is used to mean performance or doing something:

We do our duty very honestly.

Do as you are advised.

Seema does everything as she says.

B. ‘Do’ as Auxiliary Verb:

1. ‘Do’ is used to ask a question:

Do you learn English?

Does Ravana come here off and on?

Did he go there yesterday?

2. ‘Do’ is used to form Negative Sentence:

I do not know the news.

Hitesh does not know Tapan.

He did not ask me any question.

3. ‘Do’ is used to emphasise an Assertive:

I do confess that I did the wrong.

He does write well.

They did say that they do not play in the morning.

Auxiliary Verbs

B. Modal Auxiliaries

We have known that there are 24 Auxiliary Verbs. Among them the auxiliaries like shall, should, will, would, may, might, can, could, must, ought (to), dare, need and used (to) are called Modal Auxiliaries. These are called Modal Auxiliaries because they express the mood of an agent. (‘Modal’ is the Adjective form of Mood).

There are some traits of the Modal Auxiliaries as,

1. They are never used alone i.e. they take a Principal Verb within a sentence as in the following examples:

We can swim.

They will come here tomorrow.

We must respect our elders.

2. There are no different forms of the Modal auxiliaries for the Third Person Singular Number. They are used in the same form irrespective of Persons and Numbers. Notice the following examples:

Singular ….. Plural

1st.I can do it. We can do it.

2ndYou can do it. You can do it.

3rdHe/She can do it. They can do it.

3. The Modal Auxiliaries are used neither as Present Participle nor as Past Participle. Notice the following examples:

I dare say so. (Not I am daring say so).

He must come.

I need your help.

They must not stay here.

It may rain now.

There are a variety of functions and uses of the Modal Auxiliaries. Let us discuss them with illustration as below:

1. The Uses of ‘Shall’

(i) Shall is used in the first person to express mere futurity:

We shall attend the seminar on time.

I shall go to meet you.

We shall do it.

(ii) Shall is used in the second and third person to express command, promise, threat or inevitability:

You shall come here. (order)

You shall do your duty. (Command)

You shall be paid next morning. (Promise)

Thieves shall be punished. (threat)

All shall die. (Inevitability)

(iii) Shall is used in Laws, Rules etc. to denote Order or Command:

The bribe-takers shall not escape imprisonment.

All the members of the committee shall obey the disciplines imposed upon them.

(iv) In interrogative sentences Shall is used in the first and third person to enquire about the will of the person addressed to:

Shall I visit you?

Shall Deepa return soon?

2. The Uses of ‘Should’

(i) Should is the past form of ‘Shall’. It is used to mean future time in the past:

Ram told me that they should return soon that day.

I said that I should pay him by November last year.

(ii) Should is used to mean Duty or Obligation:

We should love the poor.

We should do our duty regularly.

One should respect one’s parents.

(iii) Should is used to make polite statements:

We should not respond to him.

She should have it.

(iv) Should is used to indicate Probability:

You should be able to read this story book.

This Note Book should be helpful to whom it is meant.

(V) Should is used to express supposition or anticipation:

Should the test held before the Summer vacation, we must appear on it.

3. The Uses of ‘Will’

(i) Will is used in the second and third person in both numbers to make Future Tense:

You will do the sum.

You will do it for me.

They will visit Paris.

He will come soon.

(ii) Will is used in First Person to indicate Willingness, Promise, Threat and Determination:

I will assist you. (willingness)

I will prepare the report. (promise)

I will punish you for your wickedness. (threat)

I will not visit him second time. (determination)

(iii) Will is used to make polite request:

Will you please shut the window? 

Will you please lend me your umbrella?

4. The Uses of ‘Would’

(i) Would is the Past form of ‘Will’. It is used to mean Futurity in the Past.

Kamal Pasha said that he would help us.

Devraj said that his brother would attend the meeting.

(ii) Would is used to express Determination:

I would not do that.

Harsha would go there on time.

(iii) Would is used to express a polite request:

Would you like to look into the matter?

Would you lend me your Dictionary?

Would you grant me a leave of absence?

5. The Uses of ‘Can’

(i) Can is used to indicate Natural Power, Acquired Power and Ability:

Raja can swim. (acquired power)

He cannot ride a horse. (ability)

You can make a kite. (acquired power)

We can walk. (natural ability)

(ii) Can is used in seeking Permission:

Can Mahesh go there?

Can I take this for the day?

(iii) Can is used to express Prohibition:

You cannot park your bike here.

He cannot go there now.

They cannot do that.

6. The Uses of ‘Could’

(i) Could is used as the Past form of ‘Can’:

She could read and write Latin.

They could not read.

I could not loiter there.

(ii) Could is used to express Polite Request both in Present and Future Tense:

Could I have a glass of cold water?

Could you lend your Dictionary to Nilima?

(iii) Could is used as Auxiliary Verb in the Subjective Mood:

If you could read the book, you would.

If he helps you, he could.

7. The Uses of ‘May’

(i) May is used in Present Tense to take and give permission:

May we come in, sir?

Yes, you may come in.

(ii) May is used to denote Possibility:

It may rain to-night.

She may not come in the evening.

(iii) May is used to express Wish:

May God bless us.

May you be happy.

(iv) May is used to denote Purpose:

We have been working hard so that the world may be turned into a better place to live in.

We eat that we may live.

8. The Uses of ‘Might’

(i) Might is used as the Past form of ‘May’:

She might do that.

They said that they might do the work.

We thought that it might rain last night.

(ii) Might is used in Indirect Narration:

The teacher said that the students might go.

The President said that the Secretary might visit him.

(iii) Might is used to express mild Request in the Present Tense:

Might she take this?

Might we go there?

(iv) Might is used to express Unfulfilled Condition:

The students might have succeeded if they studied hard.

We might have found the car if we searched that.

9. The Uses of ‘Must’

(i) Must is generally used in the Present and Future Tense. In both tenses it retains the same form:

I must do that.

One must do one’s duty.

(ii) Must is used to express Fixed Determination:

I must study hard.

Renin must do that.

(iii) Must is used to express Moral Duty or Obligation:

We must obey our parents.

Man must be honest to live in peace.

(iv) Must is used to mean Certainty:

Man must die.

We must show a better result.

He must be released by now.

10. The Uses of ‘Need’

Need is used as both Regular Verb and Auxiliary Verb. When it is used as a Regular (Principal) Verb it changes its form in the past tense. But if used as Auxiliary verb it does not change its form after Number and Person.

(a) The Use of ‘Need’ as Regular (Ordinary Verb):

A hermit needs no fashionable thing.

What the woman needed was a job.

Does he need your help?

During my student-life I needed my cousin’s help.

(b) The Use of Need as Auxiliary Verb:

You need not come here.

Need she write a letter?

You need not do it.

Note:  As an Auxiliary Verb Need is used more in Negative and Interrogative sentences: Examples:

Need he pay the bill of the dinner?

He need not help her.

He need not shout.

12. The Uses of ‘Dare’

Dare is used both as Ordinary (Principal) Verb and Auxiliary Verb. 

The verb Dare when used as Principal Verb takes -s with it in the Present Tense, Third Peson Singular Number and in Past Tense in becomes dared. Examples:

He dares me to do that.

He dare say he will be successful.

When the verb Dare is used as Auxiliary Verb it does not change its form. It does not take Infinitive (to) after it. Examples:

He dare not do it.

I dare not say so.

13. The Uses of ‘Ought to’

Ought to is used both in the Present Tense and Past Tense. It does not change according to Number and Person.

(i) Ought to is used to denote Strong Probability:

You ought to visit the place.

I ought to get first division.

(ii) Ought to is used to denote Duty and Moral Obligation:

We ought to do our duty every day.

We ought to love our motherland.

We ought to obey our elders.

10. The Uses of ‘Used to’

(i) Used to is used to express some past action or habit that happened or occurred regularly.

I used to walk mile after mile while I was a student in High School.

Kamal used to smoke in his adulthood.

(II) Used to is used to connect a Past action with the Present:

I live in Delhi now, I used to live at Westminster.

Note: Sometimes Used to take gerund:

The baby is not used to sleeping in the morning.

Note: Before Used to we can use any form of Be verb as to be, get, become etc. Examples:

To be used to learing Latin you must take tuition.

He became used to smoking when he was in London.

I got used to reciting poetry while I was in Cambridge University.

Auxiliary Verbs 


Auxiliary Verbs

1. Say which of the words in italics in the following sentences have been used as Auxiliary Verbs and which are used as Principal Verbs:

(a) I can climb up a peepul tree.

(b She had an interview.

(c) Could you please tell me the time?

(d) He might go there.

(e) I dare not do it now.

(f) You need not eat guava.

(g) I need your help.

(h) It may rain tomorrow.

(i) Will you please lend me your car?

(j) He had had his lunch at the Hotel Tymor.

(k) She sang nicely.

(l) I don’t have breakfast daily.

(m) We ought to love our brothers.

(n) She used to ride an elephant while she was in the village.

2. Fill in the gaps with the right alternatives given within brackets at the end of each sentence:

(a) The missing child ……….. be found in the crowd. (could/may)

(b) I can hear a footstep, that ………….. be Tapash. (may/might)

(c) You ………… do as I ask. (shall/will)

(d) ………….. you please open the door? (shall/will)

(e)…………… I borrow your pen? (should/could)

(f) She ……………… do the work easily. (may/can)

(g)You …………… come back early. (can/must)

(h) They will go tomorrow, ………… they? (willn’t/won’t)

(i)………… you do me a favour? (should/would)

3. Rewrite the following sentences by filling in the blanks with appropriate Auxiliaries to illustrate the attitude given in the brackets.

(a) He ………….come next week. (Simple Future)

(b) I …………. help you. (intention)

(c) It ………. rain to-night. (possibility)

(d) She …………. swim. (ability)

(e) I ………. play volleyball when I was in college. (ability)

(f) He ……….. drink milk when he was in Calcutta. (past habit)

(g) You ………… not do that. (undesirable action)

(h) …………. you like to have a cup of tea? (offering)

(i)They …………. remember us. (emphasis)

(j) They ……………….. leave now. (formal permission)

(k) He ………….. be tired. (certainty)

(l) …………… you please tell me to wait? (would/will)

(m) This ……….. have been done by an expert. (belief)

(n) ………… you go to Delhi by Sunday? (will/would).  0 0 0

Auxiliary Verbs

N.B.  The article ‘Auxiliary Verbs’ originally belongs to the book ‘School English Grammar Part- I‘ by Menonim Menonimus.

Books of Composition by M. Menonimus:

  1. Advertisement Writing
  2. Amplification Writing
  3. Note Making
  4. Paragraph Writing
  5. Notice Writing
  6. Passage Comprehension
  7. The Art of Poster Writing
  8. The Art of Letter Writing
  9. Report Writing
  10. Story Writing
  11. Substance Writing
  12. School Essays Part-I
  13. School Essays Part-II
  14. School English Grammar Part-I
  15. School English Grammar Part-II..

Books of S. Story by M. Menonimus:

  1. The Fugitive Father and Other Stories
  2. The Prostitute and Other Stories
  3. Neha’s Confession

Books of Biography by M. Menonimus:

  1. The World Writers-Brief Biographies
  2. Introduction to World Writers
  3. Introduction to World Personalities
  4. Love of Reputed Persons ..

Books on Linguistics by M. Menonimus:

  1. A Brief History of the English Language
  2. Essays on Linguistics
  3. My Imageries
  4. Felicitous Expression: Some Examples
  5. Learners’ English Dictionary

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