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Basic English Grammar: What is an auxiliary verb?

Hi. I’m Jade. What we’re talking about today is
auxiliary verbs. You don’t have to be scared of that word, “auxiliary”, because it’s a
grammar word. Basically, what they are is they’re helper verbs. They are not the most
important verb in the sentence, but they’re important so we know what tense it is. So the
reason I made this lesson today is I found that people who taught English to themselves
get to a point where some confusion comes in because if you’re watching videos about
learning English and things like that, sometimes, you’re going to hear grammar words that you’re
not sure about. And then, some confusion can happen. So if the teacher says, “Find the verb
in the sentence”, sometimes, what happens is you just find the verb you know, but you
don’t realize that it’s not the important verb there. So the whole idea of this lesson
is to just teach you a bit of grammar so that you don’t get confused in the future when
you’re watching videos and things like that. So yeah. They’re helper verbs. They’re not the
most important verb in the sentence. There can be more than one of them in a sentence
and even still not being the main verb. It’s important because it will help you to recognize
the tense, the different tenses of English. Maybe you don’t use all the tenses actively,
but it’s still good to be able to recognize them. And also, the most important thing about
auxiliary verbs is that it’s not helpful for you to directly translate these words because
you’ll just get a really confusing, confusing meaning. And sometimes, that’s a mistake people
make. So what we’re going to do is go through the different auxiliary verbs in English and
look at the different ways that we use them. So the first one you might not think of as
being a helping verb, but it’s a good example of what I mean when you see the verb, and
then you try to translate it, and it doesn’t really give you a good meaning; it doesn’t
really explain what it means well. The best example of that is “be” in the present and
past simple. “She is my boss.” What does “be” mean? What does it — what does “be” mean? I
don’t know. I was personally confused about that even though I didn’t need to learn English.
And what it’s doing is being a linking verb. In grammar terms, all it’s doing is joining
subject to object. It doesn’t carry its own meaning, you could say. So in that sense, the
verb isn’t that important here. It’s the subject and the object
that are important. Anyway. The next examples, they start to get
a little more complicated, but not too bad. Another example of “be”, but this time in the
continuous sentence — in the continuous tenses. “He is sleeping.” Let’s have a think.
What tense is that one? That one is the present continuous. And this one, “They have been
talking.” This one is the present perfect continuous. And what I mean by “auxiliary
verb” in these is that they’re not the most important verb in those examples. The most
important verb is “sleeping” here. And the most important verb is “talking” here. In
this example, the present perfect continuous actually has two auxiliaries because you can
have more than one auxiliary verb in a sentence. Next example. “Have” in the perfect tenses.
We’ve got two examples here. We’ve got, “I’ve got a car” and, “They had gone home.” What
tenses are we talking about here? “I’ve got a car.” That one is the present perfect. And
what about this one? What’s this one? This one is the past perfect. Where’s the most
important verb? The most important verb is “get” here. We’re using it for possession. It
means “to own something, to possess something” here. In the second example, the most important
verb is “go”. This is a past participle. It becomes “gone”. Let’s move on to “do” — our first example of
“do”. When we’re making a negative sentence in the present simple or the past simple, in
the negative form, we use “do”. Let’s look at the examples. “I do not like Peter.” I’m
sorry, Peter. “Do” shows us that we’re making a negative sentence. What’s the most important
verb? The most important verb is “like”. What about next example? “We didn’t go.” Again —
naughty me — no full stop. The most important verb is “go”. There’s our negative,
this time in a contracted form. Next example of “do” is in questions. What
does “do” mean in a question? “Do” basically means I’m asking a question now. For example,
“Do you like London?” Yes, I do. I like London. And now, we’re talking about “will” as an
auxiliary verb. It can mean two things. It can mean the future tense — “I will be there
later.” And “will” shows us we’re talking about the future. But it’s not the most important
verb. The most important verb is “be”. And our other way — another meaning of “will”,
you could say, is to express certainty. So in this other sentence, “You will like this”,
we’re not talking about a future time. We’re just trying to express certainty about something.
But it’s not our most important verb because it’s an auxiliary verb. Our most
important verb, again, is “like”. Now, talking about modal verbs, we use modal
verbs when we’re talking about necessity or the probability of something. And this group
of verbs isn’t ever the most important verb in the sentence in terms of grammar. So here’s
an example. “They might help you.” Our most important verb is “help”. We have other modal verbs as well, but, you
know, “might”, “may”, “should”, “must” are the modal verbs. And the last auxiliary verb we’re going to
talk about is “would”, and we use “would” for talking about hypothetical situations.
And “hypothetical” means imagined. Not true situations, but we’re using it to think about
something in the future imagined or something in the past imagined. But it’s not the most
important verb for meaning. The most important verb for meaning in
this sentence is “do”. Now, I realize we’ve been talking a lot about,
“Oh, this auxiliary verb, does this, does this, does this” — but let’s come back and look
at how to find the main verb in the sentence because that will be useful for you whenever
you need to really find the meaning in the sentence. Let’s have a look at my tips for finding the
main verb in the sentence because it’s sometimes really needed to find the main verb so you can
understand the full meaning of the sentence. And just knowing what auxiliaries are, they
can help you find the main verb. So we’ll look at the tips, and that should help you not
have really bad grammar confusion, hopefully in the future. So tip No. 1: We can find the main verb after
“is”, “was”, or “were” in the present or past continuous. We’ve got some examples here. “I
was eating pizza.” That’s the past continuous. And, “They were singing”. That’s also the
past continuous. And the main verb is coming after “was” and after “were”. Next example. Tip No. 2: after “have” or “has”
in the present perfect; or after “had” in the past perfect. Let’s look at examples.
“We have got a dog” or “We’ve got a dog” in the contracted speech form. After “have” — because
this is the present perfect — our main verb is “get”, but we’re using it in that way that I
mentioned to you before, to mean possession. So all together, this means, “I own a dog” or,
“I possess a dog.” In the present perfect, our main verb is here. “Have”
is not our most important verb. Next example. “I had had fun.” That maybe looks
wrong or weird to you to see “had” together twice. Sometimes people get confused about
it. But it’s actually okay to say that. We have “had”, and then, our main verb here is
“had”. “I had had fun.” And that’s the past perfect tense. Moving on for tip No. 3: We can find the main
verb after “have been” or “has been” or after “had been” in the perfect tense, in the perfect
continuous tenses. Let’s take a look at some examples. “They have been lying.” In these
examples, we have two auxiliaries; we have two helper verbs. “Had” is a helper verb;
“been” is a helper verb; and our main verb is “lying”. It comes from the verb “lie” — “to
tell a lie.” Let’s look at the next example. “He had been sleeping.” This one is the past
perfect continuous. Again, we’ve got two helper verbs here, “had”, “been” — helping verbs.
Our main verb is “sleeping”. That’s the most important one to carry meaning. Tip No. 4: after the modal verb or after the
modal verb followed by other auxiliaries. And I didn’t write you an example there. So
let me give you one. “I might have told you earlier” or, “I might have given you an example.”
So after the modal verb “might” comes “have given”. “I might have given.” We have one
auxiliary verb there, “have”. “I might have given you an example
on the board.” And our last example — this is probably an
easier way if you can remember this one. After “been”. After “been” is the main verb.
“I have been thinking.” So these tips are all useful to find the main
verb. This is a general grammar lesson to mainly just stop that confusion that happens
sometimes when you know little bits of grammar, but it’s not all together up there in your
head. Knowing and finding the main verb is really useful — a lot. It can save you confusion
when you’re doing exercises and things like that. It’s really helpful. So we’re finished
for the lesson, but if you want to do a quiz, you can find the quiz at You
can answer questions about this. And what I’d also like you to do is subscribe to this
channel. This is my personal channel here on EngVid. If you like my lessons — because I
make all kinds of other lessons about learning English, which I really want you to watch if
you like watching me. And… I am finished now! But I want you to come back. Come back
soon for more English with me. And until then, bye-bye.

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