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Understanding the Use of Auxiliary Verbs Vol 1: “Be,” “Do,” & “Have”

In today’s English lesson, we are going to learn about the auxiliary verbs, their definition, types, and uses in English grammar.

To begin with, let us first understand what an auxiliary verb is.

As per the definition, auxiliary verbs; also known as the helping verbs, are usually used with the main verb in a sentence in order to help convey the mood, tense, and voice of the main verb.

The primary auxiliary verbs are ‘to be’, ‘to do, and ‘to have’. These verbs happen to appear in the given forms:

  • To Be: is, am, are, was, were, being, been, and will be
  • To Have: has, have, had, having, and will have
  • To Do: does, do, did, and will do

Other than these three verb types, we have a different kind of auxiliary verb too which is known as the modal auxiliary verb. These modal verbs include, may, might, can, could, must, ought to, shall, should, will and would.

We will be covering these modal auxiliary verbs in our next English lesson. For now, let us focus on the use of the primary auxiliary verbs: Be, Do, and Have.

Be, Have, and Do not just act as auxiliary verbs but in many sentences, they happen to function as the main verb too.

As auxiliary verbs, we use them to form questions, negative forms of sentences, and tenses.

1. Forming Tenses

A) We use ‘Do’ to form simple tenses for questions and for making negative sentences. The following examples will make it clear:

a) Do you think I’m fit for the game?

b) You do not look good today.

B) To form tenses using ‘Have’, we generally go with adding the past participle along. Examples include:

a) They have left for the movie.

b) She had broken her toe while dancing.

C) We use ‘Be’ + the verb and ing form in order to form the continuous tense. Some examples to consider are:

a) She is playing in the garden.

b) They were discussing yesterday’s match.

2. Forming Questions

As mentioned in the beginning, the three auxiliary verbs, ‘Do’, ‘Be’, and ‘Have’ are used for forming questions too. Read the examples below to understand it better:

a) Do you want to have some more tea?

b) Is she wearing the same dress?

c) Have you been to her place ever?

3. Forming Negatives

To form negative sentences, the auxiliary verbs are used in the following manner:

a) You do not have the confidence required to excel in this program.

b) I was not prepared for the event.

c) They have not got a proper room designed for the baby.

When using the auxiliary verbs, the important thing to consider is the tense type and the sentence form you’re making. With little practice, you will be able to make the sentences using these verbs perfectly.

Until our next lesson where we will study modal auxiliary verbs, keep practicing these, and stay tuned to this space.

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