Using Helping Verbs in English

Expressing possibility, ability, permission, advice, and obligation in English


The modal and other auxiliary verbs are sometimes called "helping verbs." Helping verbs are the verbs that help other verbs work. Helping verbs typically help express grammatical tense, aspect, mood, and voice.

Helping Verbs and Voice:


In active voice, helping verbs generally appear together with a second verb in the infinitive form.


In passive voice, one or two helping verbs appear with "be" and the participle of an additional verb.


In active voice progressive, the helping verb be accompanies the progressive form of the second verb.


The helping verbs in alphabetical order: be, can, could, dare, do, have, *have to, may, might, must, *need to, *ought, to, shall, should, *used to, will, and would.

[*special forms requiring "to"]



Forming Statements Using Helping Verbs


Here are the simplest formulas and examples:

Active Voice


There are three forms: simple, simple progressive, and compound


Simple: Subject + helping + Verb 2 + the rest.


Example:

Vacations can relieve stress.

Vacations + can + relieve + stress.


Simple progressive always with "be":

Subject + be+ verb 2 progressive + verb 3 progressive the rest.


Example:

I am enjoying singing for you.

I + am + enjoying + singing + for you.


Compound:


Subject + helping + verb 2 participle + verb 3 progressive + the rest.


Example:

We have enjoyed singing for you.


We + have + enjoyed + singing + for + you.


Passive Voice with be


There are two forms: simple and compound


Formula 1: Simple

Subject + be + Verb 2 participle + the rest.

Example:

He was given the magazine.

He + was + given + the + magazine.


Formula 2 Compound:

Subject + helping + be + verb 2 participle + the rest.


Example:

The vacation should be enjoyed by the whole family.

The vacation + should + be + enjoyed + by the whole family.



How do we form questions using helping verbs?


Active Voice:


Here is the simplest formula:


Helping + subject + verb 2 + the rest?


Examples:


Would you read these magazines?

Would + you + read + these magazines?


Did he ask about your vacation?


Did + he + ask + about your vacation?


Questions in the passive voice: There are 2 forms.


Form 1 simple:

be + subject + verb 2 participle + the rest?


Example:


Was he given a magazine?

Was + he + given + a magazine?


Form 2 compound:

Helping + subject + been + verb 2 participle + the rest?


Example:

Had he been given a magazine?

Had + he + been + given + a magazine?


Thanks for reading! We have enjoyed bringing you this introduction to helping verbs. See you next week!

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