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Helping verbs in English Grammar

In English grammar, helping verbs are also known as auxiliary verbs. They are used to modify the tense, mood, voice, and aspect of a sentence. A helping verb is used along with a main verb to create a verb phrase. In this guide, we will explore the list of helping verbs in English grammar, their use and examples.

List of Helping Verbs in English Grammar:

  1. To be: am, is, are, was, were, been, being
  2. To have: have, has, had, having
  3. To do: do, does, did, doing
  4. To can: can, could
  5. To may: may, might
  6. To will: will, would
  7. To shall: shall, should
  8. To must: must

Use of Helping Verbs with Explanation:

  1. To be: This helping verb is used to show a state of being or existence. For example, “I am happy,” “She is a doctor,” “They were watching a movie.”
  2. To have: This helping verb is used to indicate possession or ownership. For example, “I have a car,” “She has a cat,” “They had lunch.”
  3. To do: This helping verb is used to form negative and interrogative sentences. For example, “I do not like pizza,” “Do you like ice cream?,” “He did not study for the exam.”
  4. To can: This helping verb is used to express ability or possibility. For example, “I can swim,” “He could lift the weight,” “She cannot speak Spanish.”
  5. To may: This helping verb is used to indicate permission or possibility. For example, “May I leave early today?,” “She may come to the party,” “It may rain tomorrow.”
  6. To will: This helping verb is used to indicate future actions or intentions. For example, “I will call you later,” “They would love to visit Paris,” “He will be here soon.”
  7. To shall: This helping verb is used to express suggestions or requirements. For example, “Shall we go for a walk?,” “You shall not cheat on the exam,” “He shall finish the report by tomorrow.”
  8. To must: This helping verb is used to express obligation or necessity. For example, “I must finish my homework,” “She must attend the meeting,” “They must follow the rules.”

Professional Tips of helping verbs in english grammar

  1. Remember that helping verbs are always used with a main verb to form a verb phrase.
  2. Be careful with the use of contractions when using helping verbs. For example, “I’m” is a contraction of “I am” and “doesn’t” is a contraction of “does not.”
  3. Helping verbs can change the meaning of a sentence. Be sure to use the correct helping verb to convey your intended meaning.

Examples of Each Helping Verb:

  1. To be: I am walking, She is cooking, They were playing
  2. To have: I have eaten, She has a headache, They had a good time
  3. To do: I do not like sushi, Does he speak French?, He did his homework
  4. To can: I can dance, She could sing, They cannot swim
  5. To may: May I borrow your book?, She may go to the gym, It may snow tomorrow
  6. To will: I will see you tomorrow, They would like to order pizza, He will graduate soon
  7. To shall: Shall we go to the park?, You shall not smoke here, He shall finish the project by Friday
  8. To must: I must finish this report, She must take the medicine, They must leave.


Helping verbs are an essential part of English grammar, and their correct usage can make a significant difference in the meaning of a sentence. They help to convey various nuances of tense, mood, voice, and aspect in a sentence. Understanding the various types of helping verbs and their usage can improve your writing and speaking skills in English. With practice and familiarity, you can easily master the use of helping verbs in your writing and communication.

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