Helping Verbs Guide: Meaning, Types, and Sentence Examples

Verbs are a key part of every good sentence. Main verbs help tie the pieces of a sentence together, while ‘helping’ verbs add detail to the main verb, giving the sentence more meaning. This article on what are helping verbs list discusses helping verbs, including examples to help you enhance the power of the sentences you write.

A verb can make or break the effectiveness of a sentence – which is why it is essential to learn how to use them. Let’s start with a brief discussion of what helping verbs are and how they work.

What are Helping Verbs?

Like the name suggests, helping verbs ‘help’ the main verb and complete the structure of a sentence. They typically come before the main verb and make the sentence more meaningful.

Helping verbs set the mood or tone of a sentence and tell us the exact time something happened. Consider the following sentence with the helping verbs ‘does’ and ‘did.’

  • Mary does complete her assignment.
  • Mary did complete her assignment.

The first sentence tells us what Mary does on a regular basis i.e., complete her assignment. It suggests that no matter the situation, Mary completes her task. In the second sentence, the helping verb ‘did’ shows that Mary completed her assignment recently.

What are Helping Verbs List: Types of Helping Verbs

We can classify helping verbs into two types; auxiliary verbs and modal verbs. Let’s briefly look at both types.

1. Auxiliary Verbs

Auxiliary verbs add meaning to the clause (i.e., a group of words containing a subject and predicate) in which they are used. They typically add emphasis and express tense. There are three common auxiliary verbs – “to be,” “to have,” and “to do.” These verbs have multiple forms listed below.

  • to have – have, has and had
  • to be – am, is, are, was, were, be, been
  • to do – do, does, did

The verbs “be,” “do,” and “have” function as auxiliary verbs in some sentences and as main verbs in others. They function as auxiliary verbs when placed with other verbs to form a verb phrase.

Some examples of auxiliary verbs functioning in sentences are listed below. Note that the auxiliary verbs are in bold while the main verbs are underlined.

  • am having another plate of food.
  • My mum is making lunch for us.
  • My siblings are planning to leave the country.
  • He was crowned the winner of the contest.
  • We are pleased to have you on our team.
  • Will you be attending the party?
  • I’ve been running for over an hour.

2. Modal Verbs

Modal verbs are helping verbs that modify the action of the main verb in a sentence. There are several modal verbs in the English language.

But unlike auxiliary verbs with multiple forms, modal verbs have only one form expressing all their functions. These verbs are: must, ought to should, shall, can, could, may, might, will, and would.

We typically use modal verbs to show necessity, possibility, and obligation. Some examples of modal helping verbs in sentences are highlighted below. The modal verbs are in bold, while the main verbs are underlined.

  • David can run up those stairs.
  • I wish I could dance.
  • may leave work soon.
  • might sleep early today.
  • will sing in Church this Sunday.
  • Would you mind if I brought a friend over?
  • Who shall volunteer to bring cookies?
  • I should go home and rest.
  • You mustaddress the team after the game.
  • Mary ought to wash the car.
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Photo by lilartsy on Unsplash

To Wrap Up

Helping verbs provide extra information about the main verb without changing its meaning. Auxiliary verbs emphasize a sentence and express tense, telling us the time of an occurrence.

On the other hand, modal verbs modify the action of the main verb in a sentence. They show obligation, necessity, and possibility.

Helping verbs set the mood or tone of a sentence and complete the sentence structure. This article answers the question: what are helping verbs list, including sentence examples to help you better understand how helping verbs work.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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