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Grammar and Vocabulary
How to Use Verbs
Helping Verbs and Modals
Helping verbs are used in a verb phrase (that is, with a second verb) to show tense or form a question or a negative.
Helping verbs are always followed by a second verb, and they show the perfect verb tenses, continuous/progressive verb tenses, and passive voice.
To show tense
The sentence pattern will be:
To form a question
The sentence structure will be:
There are three categories for helping verbs: “Do/be/have”, one-word modals, and two-word modals.
These help other verbs make questions, negatives, and some verb tenses. Remember: Do, be, and have are helping verbs only when they are used with a second verb.
Do is a helping verb when it is used to indicate questions, negatives, and emphasis.
Be is a helping verb when it is used to form the continuous/progressive tense or to show passive voice.
HAVE is a helping verb when it is used to show the perfect verb tenses, or used to form a question.
These sentences are in question form. Do/Does/Did are used as helping verbs with Have to form these questions.
Emphasis with Do
To respond to a statement like, “You don’t want to go to the park,” you may want to reply with great emphasis. Situations like that are perfect for using Do/Does/Did to indicate you really mean something.
In these sentences, Do/Does/Did are used with the verb Want.
Negatives with Do
Do/Does/Did are used as helping verbs and the word Not to form a negative. In these sentences, they again are used with Want.
Continuous tense with Be
These sentences use Am/Was/Will Be (forms of the verb Be) to form the continuous verb tense with the verb Helping.
Passive voice with Be
These sentences use Is/Was/Will Be with the verb Canceled to show passive voice.
Perfect tense with Have
These sentences use Have/Had with the verb Studied to show the perfect tense.
Questions with Have
Have is used with the verb Seen to make a question.
Modals are a special kind of helping verb, used to show possibility, probability, and necessity. They:
Like other helping verbs, modals are always followed by a second verb. But the second verb follows a different conjugation pattern if a modal is present. The second verb can never add “-s,” “-es,” “-ed,” or “-ing.” It also cannot be in the infinitive form (“to …”) or in the gerund form (“…-ing”).
When using modals, the sentence structure will be:
The Modal page of this guide includes more information on modals, including sentence examples.
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