Auxiliary Verb: Uses, List, Examples and Test of Auxiliary Verb or Helping Verb

Starting Line: Here we are to represent Auxiliary verb or Helping verb easy way. Without complete knowledge of Auxiliary verb, one cannot show his expression of mind with full satisfaction. But using all the auxiliary verbs effectively with their varied uses in the writing is not an easy job. Here we are walking the interested readers through simple-and-easy to follow guidelines on Auxiliary verb to help them serve this purpose.

What Auxiliary Verb is

Before we proceed with this subject, we have a logical request for the readers to read up our another sub -topic on Principal Verb and Auxiliary/Helping Verb here.

Definition: Auxiliary Verb is the verb that does not/cannot express meaning in the sentence itself but helps the Principal Verb express meaning different ways. As it helps the Principal Verb make sense, Auxiliary verb is also called Helping Verb. 

♦ Let us proceed through step by step examples—

1. John drives a car.
[Here Principal verb-drives. No Auxiliary verb. Simply describes ‘John does something’.]
2. John is driving his new car.
[Here Principal verb-drives. Auxiliary verb-is. This sentence says ‘John is continuing a work (driving)]
3. John may drive his old car today.
[Here Principal verb-drives. Auxiliary verb-may. This sentence describes ‘John has possibility to do something (driving)’]

In the examples above; in sentence 1, Principal verb ‘drive’ expresses the meaning of the verb alone. In sentence 2, Auxiliary verb ‘is’ helps the verb ‘drive’ express continuity. In sentence 3, Auxiliary verb ‘may’ helps the verb ‘drive’ make meaning of possibility. So, is and may are Auxiliary verb or Helping verb or Helper verb.

Varied Examples of Auxiliary Verb


  • Ex-1: He must come to my birthday party. [expresses ‘obligation’]
  • Ex-2: You should read newspaper regularly. [expresses ‘obligation/responsibility’]  
  • Ex-3: The girl can play violin. [expresses ‘ability’]
  • Ex-4: Max has just entered his room. [forms present perfect tense ‘completing the verb phrase’]
  • Ex-5: The Grasshopper was singing and dancing. [forms past continuous tense ‘completing the verb phrase’]
  • Ex-6: It may rain today. [expresses ‘possibility’]
  • Ex-7: You might have heard the name of Shakespeare. [expresses ‘assumption’]
  • Ex-8: Lucy is singing song. [expresses ‘Continuity/progressiveness’]
  • Ex-9: The moon will rise soon. [indicates ‘future action’]
  • Ex-10: They could be taking dinner. [expresses ‘possibility in past continuous action’]

In the light of above examples, we find that an Auxiliary verb-

  • follows Principal verb
  • usually goes after Subject.
  • is always placed before Principal verb
  • helps Principal verbs to express meaning different ways and forms verb phrase
  • adds function and grammatical content to the main verb
  • forms tenses, shows probability, obligation, potential, directions etc.
  • cannot express meaning itself like a full verb
  • is a function word

Different types of Auxiliary Verb and their list


♦ Auxiliary Verbs are of two types—

A. Primary Auxiliaries

B. Modal Auxiliaries

Primary Auxiliary verb:

Primary Auxiliary verbs are all the verbs derived from BE, HAVE and DO. The main features of these verbs are that they can  help the Principal or Main Verb by extending or modifying the meaning as well as can act as Principal verb themselves. am, is, are, was, were, have, has, had, do, does, did are such kind of verbs.

♦ Some examples—

  • ‘Is’ as Helping verb: He is enjoying a film.
  • ‘Is’ as Principal verb: Knowledge is power.
  • ‘Have’ as Helping verb: Students of this college have made a great result this year.
  • ‘Have’ as Auxiliary verb: They have a few acres of land on the other side of the river.
  • ‘Do’ as Helping verb: Children do not come to play in this park at all.
  • ‘Do’ as Auxiliary verb: Talented boys do their works in time.

Modal Auxiliary verb:

Modal Auxiliary verbs are those that help the Principal verbs as Primary Auxiliary verbs do but they cannot act as Principal verb themselves. shall, should, may, might, will, would, can, could, must, ought to are the modal Auxiliary verb.

♦ Some examples—

  • Will: The train will arrive at this station after 10 p.m.
  • May: The weather is foul for days together. The sun may rise today.
  • ought to: We ought to vote for the right person.
  • Can: A boy cannot discharge such a duty.

Details of Primary Auxiliaries


Here are some characteristics of Primary Auxiliary verb. They-

  • function to the Principal verb
  • can form Negative and Interrogative form of a sentence
  • can function as Principal verb or full verb
  • have Past and Past participle form
  • have Infinitive form: to be, to have, to do
  • have Present participle form: being, having, doing
  • ‘Be’ forms Progressive (Continuous) tense and ‘Have’ forms Perfect tense
  • as Helping verb ‘Do, Does’ only functions to form Negative and Interrogative of Simple Present tense and ‘Did’ functions to form Negative and Interrogative of Simple Past tense.
  • DO, DOES and DID are always followed by ‘base form of verb’.

List and Examples of Primary Auxiliaries


1. Be  am, is, are, was, were, been, being, be
1. Have
 have, has, had, having
1. Do
 do, does, did


BE Auxiliary verb Children are swimming. A bird is flying alone.
BE Principal verb  Unity is strength, India was a British colony.
BE Passive mood Criminals were at last arrested. I am cheated by them.
HAVE Auxiliary The plane has left the airport. They have planted fruit trees.
HAVE Principal The earth has one satellite. Lisa had a pet dog.
DO Negative  I do not go to bed late. Tigers do not eat  grass.
DO Interrogative  Do you like to play baseball? Do trees save the world?
DOES Negative The girl does not study at school. The wind does not blow from the south.
DOES Interrogative Doesn’t the earth move round the sun? Does the man read magazine?
DID Negative Clara did not get any job. Crops did not grow well in this season.
DID Interrogative Did Joseph invite you? Didn’t Japan join the war at last.
DO Principal verb I do my homework. She does her homework. You did your homework.

Details of Modal Auxiliaries


Important features of Modal Auxiliary verb. They-

  • function to help the Principal verb
  • can form Negative and Interrogative form of a sentence without help of other verbs
  • cannot function as Principal verb or full verb
  • Don’t have definite Past form. Though ‘should, could, would, might’ sound past, they have limitation in uses as past tense. Besides they have other usage also.
  • don’t have Infinitive form
  • don’t have Present participle form
  • are always followed by ‘base form of Principal verb’
  • express possibility, necessity, uncertainty, condition, obligation, ability etc. being placed at the beginning of Verb phrase headed by the Principal verb

Semi-modal Verb

There are some Verbs in Modal Auxiliary group with limited features of Modal Auxiliary verbs; they are called Semi-modal verb. These verbs have some qualities of Modal verb and also can work like full verbs. Need, dare, used (to) are Semi-modal verb.

List and Examples of Modal Auxiliaries


1. Modal
 shall, will, may, can, should, would, might, could, must, ought to
1. Semi-modal
 need, dare, used (to)


SHALL Simple Future I shall buy a laptop. We shall enjoy a picnic this week.
SHALL Emphasizing You shall meet me before sunset. No employee shall go out during office hour.
WILL Simple Future Liza will go shopping now. The sun will set soon.
WILL Emphasizing I will do my duty perfectly. We will obey the company rules to the letter.
MAY Permission You may go now. May I come in, sir?
MAY Possibility It may rain today. Father may return home today.
MAY Wish May you come round soon. May Allah develop our country day by day.
MAY Purpose We eat so that we may live. Men live in house so that they may keep them safe.
CAN Ability My child can read alphabet now. A boy cannot do such a work.
CAN Possibility The prime minister can leave the country tonight. The sun can appear after mid-day.
CAN Permission Can I ask you a question? You can take my umbrella if you need.
SHOULD Obligation Officers should reach their office in time. One should not reply without understanding  question.
SHOULD Recommendation You should take bed rest until you get fully recovered. Jack should retake the test to continue his success.
SHOULD Expectation You should finish this simple work in half an hour. James should have reached New York by this time.
WOULD Future in Past He promised that he would help me. Jonny said that he would go abroad next month.
WOULD Condition If I were you, I would resign the post. Had I enough money, I would buy a car.
WOULD Polite Request Would you tell me your name, please? Would you lend me some money?
MIGHT Possibility This weather might cause snowfall. He might pass the examination this year.
MIGHT Wish People wished that their leader might live long. I prayed that God might lead him to right track of life.
MIGHT Purpose I started early so that I might reach office in time. They got prepared well so that they might win the game.
COULD Ability (Past) Wasik could run computer from his early childhood. He could also speak French.
COULD Possibility The meeting could come to an end by this time. In that stormy weather, you could fall in danger.
COULD Request Could you lend me your car? Could you show me the way to the nearest post office?
MUST Obligation Every student must obey the laws of the college. All must keep silent in the library.
MUST Advice You must rise early to breathe in pure oxygen. You must follow the great men to gain success in life.
OUGHT TO Obligation We ought to obey the law. Students ought to respect their teachers.
OUGHT TO Future Obligation You ought to go home tomorrow. Next year I ought to help my poor relatives first.


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