Auxiliary Verbs

Objectives of today’s lesson:

In this lesson, Learn English with Julia presents to you “Auxiliary Verbs”, in order for you to:

  • learn an auxiliary verb list
  • further understand through auxiliary verb examples
  • discover modal auxiliary verb “will”
  • learn a list of 23 common auxiliary verbs


Video Script: Auxiliary Verbs or Helping Verbs

Hello and welcome back!

Today we’re going to be doing a video on the auxiliary verbs or auxiliaries. They are also commonly known as “helping verbs”

As you can see here we’ve written all the different affirmative forms and here the different uses of axillary verbs

So let’s start off with the compound tenses. In order to create a compound tense,I will need my auxiliary to help the main verb indicate the subject’s involvement in the action.

So I’m going to use for example this compound tense: the past perfect continuous, because I’ll need lots of auxiliaries there.So the past perfect continuous of “learn”
So past > I’m going to use my auxiliary “have”: “he had”
perfect continuous > “he had been learning”
So I’m not only going to use this auxiliary but also this auxiliary here
he had been learning
he had been learning: “learning” is my main verb in the present participle, so it’s preceded by two auxiliaries, “had” and “been”. So that is one example of a compound tense.

Now let’s use in less complex a tense. Let’s say for example: the present continuous. In order to create a present continuous, I need an auxiliary: “to be”. Let’s use the first person singular: I am learning
so I need this auxiliary to proceed the main verb “learn” in this case in the present participle. “I am learning” = the present continuous

So have a quick review of your compound tenses if that wasn’t very clear
But just in the meantime focus on the various forms of auxiliary verbs.

Why negative statements and questions?
Depending on the tense we’re going to use various auxiliaries. Let’s start with this particular auxiliary: “TO DO”. If I want to make a question or create a negative statement in the simple present, I’m going to rely on these two forms: “do” and “does”:
Does she speak English?
Question: Does she speak English? I need the auxiliary, my subject, and the bare infinitive of my main verb “speak”. Does she speak…?
And for a negative statement I could say: Don’t forget to add your “not” here: He doesn’t speak German. This is my negative statement.

So as you can see we need this with the inflection showing it’s the third person singular: she or he does not speak German.

Those are the three first examples of use.

The fourth one is the passive voice. This is just an introduction to auxiliaries so don’t forget to watch the full explanation of the passive voice in another video.
In the meantime let’s just remember that in order to create the passive voice we need the auxiliary “to be”.
So an example of the passive voice would be: This house was built in the 1950s.
“was” is my auxiliary. It is followed by a past participle, the main verb is in the past participle: “built” And “was built” gives me my passive voice statement.

Another example could be: I was told this morning. This is another passive voice statement. “was” is my auxiliary, “told” is the past participle. It is my main verb “to tell”
I was told this morning.

And one that I hadn’t mentioned quite yet is the last form here: “will”. “will” is an auxiliary verb and a modal verb so that means that I should have written more modal verbs here. But I’m going to let you watch another video on modal verbs to fully understand them.
In the meantime this particular auxiliary helps me create the future tenses. So let’s say the future simple. Example: I will learn. I use the auxiliary “will” followed by a bare infinitive “learn”. That creates a simple future or future simple. I will learn.

But I can also rely on various auxiliaries simultaneously to create perfect or continuous tenses. For example let’s do a future perfect: I will have learned So here I need two auxiliaries followed by my main verb – in this case it’s in the past
participle “learned”

I will have learned is: future perfect

And if I want a future perfect continuous I’ll use a different auxiliary. I’ll use this one first “I will”, then “have”, then “been”. So that is three auxiliaries for this tense and then my main verb” “learn” in this case in the “-ing form”, in
the present participle: “learning”. I will have been learning = the future perfect continuous or future perfect progressive, depending on what term you prefer.

Those are many different examples on how to use these verbs to assist main verbs and create different scenarios, different tenses, different, viewpoints also.

Now a few hints here for you in the classroom whether you’re a student or a teacher.

Don’t forget that most of these verbs can be used alone not just assisting a main verb. They can be main verbs themselves, in that case they are called “full verbs”. For example I can say: I do sports: “do” shows me the action. It’s not assisting a main verb. So that is the full verb.
If i say: I am English. That is also the full verb “to be” And if I say: I have siblings. That is also using that verb “to have” as a full verb and not as an auxiliary

Now don’t forget that I’ve only written the affirmative forms or positive forms so practise the negative forms also.
A thorough tense review is necessary at this point. Coming back to this video after that review is a recommendation.

Finally don’t forget that this chapter is linked in many ways to these other videos, to these other chapters:

question tags

passive voice

modal verbs and

make or do expressions – although that isn’t grammar, it’s more to do with lexis, with vocabulary, these collocations, these expressions with make, and expressions with do, they’re quite confusing for learners, so you might want to review “do” as an auxiliary but also in expressions as a full verb.

Thank you for today!


Grammar Quiz to practise the Auxiliary verbs or helping verbs


Keywords listed in English:

  • auxiliary verbs or auxiliaries
  • modal verbs or modals
  • full verbs
  • question tags or tag questions
  • tense review
  • passive voice
  • make or do expressions

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1 Comment

  1. Very interesting topic, thank you for posting.

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