Helping Verbs Examples
Helping verbs, or auxiliary verbs, are not the main verb in the sentence, but they "help" to clarify tense, time, or variations in meaning related to actions. For example, helping verbs can express whether the person has permission to perform an action, or things like whether there is an expectation, probability, or obligation that the person perform the action.
Common Helping Verbs
"Be," "Do," and "Have" are often helping verbs that help to clarify tense and timing, or add emphases to the action. These verbs can also be used as linking verbs or action verbs, so they are only helping verbs when used in conjunction with another main verb.
Be: am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been
Do: do, did, does
Have: have, has, had
Modal verbs are a specific type of helping verb that express different shades of meaning for an action. These are the verbs that help clarify whether the action is expected, obligated, or probable. They also help to clarify whether the action can be formed or not, and whether the subject of the sentence has permission to perform the action.
can, could, will, would, shall, should, may, might, must, ought to
Examples of Helping Verbs in Sentences:
Notice how using different modal verbs changes the meaning of this sentence.
I go to the store.
1. I can go to the store this afternoon.
2. I could go to the store if I had money.
3. I will go to the store this afternoon.
4. I would go to the store if I had money.
5. I should go to the store this afternoon.
6. I shall go to the store this afternoon.
7. I may go to the store this afternoon.
8. I might go to the store this afternoon.
9. I must go to the store this afternoon.
10. I ought to go to the store this afternoon.
Notice how using helping verbs changes the tense or sense of time in the following sentences.
1. I am running.
2. He is running.
3. I was running.
4. They are running.
5. They were running.
6. I have been running.
7. I did run.
8. I do run.
9. He does run.
10. He has been running.
11. They have been running.
Literary Terms Examples