Auxiliary verbs

Undoubtedly, while studying tenses and the rules for their formation in English, we all came across auxiliary verbs and asked - what is it? The answer is simple - they help to form a certain time. 

Types of auxiliary verbs 

In total, there are four auxiliary verbs in English: to be, do, have and will. Each has its own specific purpose and a list of times in which it will be used. 

Function of auxiliary verbs 

The name speaks for itself. Auxiliary verbs perform the function of assistants in the formation of a complex verbal form of the predicate, partially show the person and number of the subject. For example: 

  • Do is the present plural verb, although it is also used with the singular pronoun you 
  • Does - third person singular verb 
  • Did - shows only the past tense, does not indicate the person and number 
  • Have is a perfect tense verb used after you in the singular and other plural pronouns 
  • Has - perfect auxiliary verb of the third person singular of nouns, or used after the pronouns he, she, it 
  • Had - auxiliary for the past perfect. It is used both independently and as an integral part of other perfect auxiliary verbs 
  • Am is a derivative form of the verb to be in the present tense, used only with the first person 
  • Is - indicates that the action is performed by a third person in the singular form of the present tense 
  • Are is the derivative to be for the plural in the present tense. Also used with the pronoun you in the singular 
  • Was - the past form of the verb to be can be both a separate strong verb and an auxiliary for 1st and 3rd person singular of the past long tense 
  • Were is used in the Present Continuous with plural forms and the singular form You. 
  • Will is a future auxiliary used with all persons and numbers 

Composite auxiliaries 

In addition to the simple auxiliary ones described above, one can also distinguish the type of composite ones. These are two, or even three auxiliary verbs in the role of one. Usually, such auxiliary verbs are used in compound tenses like Perfect. 

  • have / has been - an auxiliary verb used in Present Perfect Continuous. The first part of it shows that the action takes place in a completely long time, and the second indicates precisely its duration 
  • had been - the same as in the previous version, only in the past tense. Has no restrictions on persons and numbers, unlike have/has
  • will have been - perfect auxiliary future tense 
  • will be - an auxiliary verb of the Future Continuous, the first part of which indicates the future time of the action, and the second - its duration

Place in the sentence 

Everything is simple here. An auxiliary verb in English sentences can have only two places - after the subject in declarative and negative sentences, and before the subject in interrogative sentences.