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What Are Main And Helping Verbs? How Can Be Used To Help Other Verbs?

Referencing Styles : MLA | Pages : 1

Main and helping verbs

Another name for the main verb is the lexical or the principal verb. The important verbs in a sentence are referred to as the main or primary verbs. The verb that is used to show or indicate the action or the state of presence of the subject. One important point to be noted here that main verbs can stand along, which means that they can be used singly also these verbs can be used with the helping verbs, which are also known as the auxiliary verb. Some example of the main verb can be: write, eat, sleep, buy, run, drive, and help. The main verbs can also be used as linking verbs. The main verbs are not always used to indicate actions. In some cases the main verb is used to express the state of the subject. In these type of cases the main verbs are referred to as the linking verbs because it creates a connection between the subject and the information related to the subject. The examples can be considered for better understanding:

As a student, Jack is very well behaved.

In the above sentence, the word “is” links the behaviour to the student named as Jack. “is” works like a linking verb here.

As a child, Raj was very adorable.

In the above sentence, word “was” provides the state of being, which is adorable, for the subject Raj.

The main verbs can be categorized into two major types: One is the transitive main verbs and the other is the intransitive main verb.

The transitive verbs take in to account of a direct object while the intransitive main verbs do not. The actions received by the direct object is required by the transitive verbs. The transitve verbs can express actions without the need of a direct object, and this results in the ending of the sentence without sounding incomplete. Few examples can be:

For transitive verbs:

  • They attended the wedding.
  • John attended the meeting.
  • Ram fed the cat.
  • Jason wrote the letter.
  • Rosie loves chocolates.
  • Daisy loves cake.

For intransitive verbs:

  • The wind blew.
  • Jack laughed.
  • Jackson smiled.
  • The keys of the car disappeared.

Subsequently, the intransitive verbs do not take direct objects, the object are usually found at the end of the sentence. However, for a few cases a part of the speech may follow the intransitive verb, which are usually the adverbs or the prepositional phrase. Few example sentences are provided below.

  • The car drove hastily.
  • Robin laughed for what seemed like an hour.
  • The flowers from the garden disappeared yesterday.
  • The fruits from the tree disappeared yesterday.

In some cases, the main verb can be transitive or intransitive, depending on the use of the verb.

Example sentence:

  • The teenage boy eats greedily.
  • The teenage boy eats seven meals a day.

In the above provided sentence the word “eat” is the main verb that acts like intransitive in the first sentence and for the second sentence it acts like transitive. Identification of transitive and intransitive verbs can be easy if the idea of main verb is understood properly.

Helping Verb

The helping or the auxiliary verbs are used to help a principal verb. The main verb can be supported by the helping verb. The helping verbs can indicate the tense, ability, objective or possibility. To be, to do, and to have are some of the primary helping verbs. Moreover, then heling verb provides details about the time of the action rather than the nature of the action. Few examples of the auxiliary verb can be: is, was, am, have, had, and will.

Some examples sentences that explains the helping verb are as follows:

  • I am driving to my office.
  • I did not empty the trash.
  • I had listened to the song before.

In the first sentence, the helping or auxiliary verb “am”, is a form of “to be”, that lets the readers know the main verb, which is driving is happening continuously in then present. The “to be” can be used in different forms as the helping verb in order to explain the time of the verb or the tense (examples can be, was driving, had been driving, or will drive)

In the second sentence, the auxiliary very “did” acts like a form of “to do” which emphasizes the main verb “empty”. For an instance, consider a situation where someone asked another person if he or she emptied the trash. The answer would be “I did empty the trash” and not “I emptied the trash”.

In the third sentence, the helping verb “had” is a form of “to have” which expresses the past perfect tense, this indicated the action is taken at some time earlier in the past. For an example if someone had said that they “saw” the movie, it might seem that they just saw the movie and just finished. However if they had said that they “had seen” the movie, that might indicate that they watch the movie at some earlier time.

The auxiliary verbs are also categorized into two types: one is the primary auxiliary and the other is the modal auxiliary.

Primary auxiliary

Do, be and have are the three main primary auxiliary verbs that are being used. The primary verbs are used according to the rules of the tense to make the correct structure for the sentence.

In the sentence of continuous tenses Be (is, am, are) are used. Examples can be:

  • She is running. (this is present continuous tense)
  • Mary is singing. (this is present continuous tense)
  • Diana is painting. (this is present continuous tense)
  • Rover is driving the car. (this is present continuous tense)

For perfect tense sentence Have (have, has, had) are used. Examples of the sentences can be:

  • He has gone long before. (this is in present perfect tense)
  • I had bought the camera. (this is a past perfect tense)
  • She has gone. (this is a present perfect tense)

In case of a simple or indefinite tense Do (do, does, did) are used. Some example can be:

  • He does not eat. (this is in present simple tense)
  • She did not wait for her friend. (this is past simple)

Modal auxiliary

The modal auxiliary verbs are used primarily to express ideas of possibilities, ability, necessity and intensions. Some examples are provided below:

  • Could, can (this shows ability)
  • Might, may (this shows possibility)
  • Shall, will, would (shows intention)
  • Should (shows necessity)
  • Ought to (expresses necessity)
  • Must (this also shows necessity)

The modal auxiliary verbs are used before a principal verb which acts like a helping verb. Few examples are provided below:

  • She can drive a car.
  • You may leave now.
  • A student must take his exam.
  • He might be coming today.
  • She must reach in time.
  • Sally can name all the states of the United States.
  • Would you mind if I use your pen?
  • I may be late for the dinner.
  • When it is your time, you must go.
  • You should go home and take rest.

Progressive and the Perfect aspects

In a sentence, different helping verbs can be used for different purpose. One of the main functions of the helping verb is to locate the action of the sentence for a particular aspect of the time. The two major aspects of the helping verb are the progressive aspect and the perfect aspect.

Use of the progressive aspect

Whenever, in a sentence the principal verb ends with –ing, in these cases the progressive aspect is used. This aspect is used to deliver the concept that an action is happening in an outgoing manner. The forms of auxiliary verb that are used in order to construct this aspect are: am, is, are, was and lastly were.

Some examples can be:

  • I am starting a new business.
  • I am renting the house to Mr. Wilson.
  • John is starting a new personal training business.
  • Mira and Sailesh are moving to New York.
  • It was raining when we got to the airport.
  • The candidates were debating on the stage.

Use of perfect aspects

In English, there are three different types of the perfect aspect: the past perfect, present perfect and the future perfect. The use of the perfect aspect is to explain some action that is or was or will be in the state of development and is or was or will be accomplished before the specific time. Use of the perfect aspects can also be used in continuous form to express actions that are currently ongoing. The forms of verbs like to have and to do are frequently used in order to create various perfect aspects.

The perfect aspect is again subdivided into three parts: one is the past perfect, another is the present perfect and the last one is the future perfect.

Some example can be:

  • She had stolen the car already by then. (this is an example of past perfect)
  • Have you worked here long? (this is an example of present perfect)
  • What will we do now that Barbara is gone? (this is an example of future perfect)


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