Helping Verbs

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Helping Verbs

Helping or auxiliary verbs allow us to create verb phrases. Without them we would have a hard time expressing exactly when something happened (tense), what the tone of the statement is (mood), and whether the action is active or passive (voice).

In addition, a subcategory of helping verbs (called modal auxiliaries) provides other nuances like possibility and necessity.

Three of the most common helping verbs come in quite a few forms (in grammatical terms, they are strongly inflected):

Be Do Have
am do have
are does has
is did had
was doing having
were done

These helping verbs make it easy to create verb phrases:

does suggest

have been talking

did wonder

were harvesting

In a sentence, these phrases may be interrupted by adverbs:

You were not listening

I am fortunately going on holidays then.

Alternatively, in questions a helping verb may come before the subject:

Have you been taking your medication?

The only thing that never changes is that the helping verbs always come before the main verb.