Students understanding the complexity of language
 

Chapter 01-10: Auxiliaries

image_pdfimage_print

chapter 1: auxiliaries

Auxiliary verbs do not have most of  the characteristics of true verbs. Instead, as part of the Main Verb Phrase Formula, auxiliary verbs work with a main verb to enhance and supplement grammatical meaning. We will discuss the Main Verb Phrase Formula in more detail in Chapter 2. The important thing to remember is that if a verb is functioning as an auxiliary, it is not the main verb of a clause.
 
Auxiliary Verb Forms
Auxiliaries are structure-class words, so should not  be confused with form-class words.
 
Modal Auxiliaries
The nine modals always precede the main verb as well as any other auxiliaries in the Main Verb Phrase. Modals include
  • can
  • could
  • will
  • would
  • shall
  • should
  • may
  • might
  • must
 Modal auxiliaries do not have many of the characteristics of true verbs. They cannot take tense inflectional morphemes, so for this reason, all modals, in this textbook, should be identified as present tense only. Other verb characteristics that modals auxiliaries do not meet are that they cannot be made into commands or negatives.
 
Have Auxiliary and Be Auxiliary
HAVE and BE are the most common auxiliaries, and they will each  inflect on the verb that follows them in the Main Verb Phrase. They  can be difficult to analyze because both HAVE and BE can also serve as Main  Verbs, which would identify them in those contexts as form-class words. 
 
Be sure that you are able to distinguish between HAVE or BE as an  auxiliary and HAVE or BE as a main verb.
 
The auxiliary HAVE signals the Perfect Main Verb Phrase Form by inflecting the past participle [-en or -ed] on the verb that follows it:
 
Present-Perfect
  • A bright green bird has nested there.
  • The judges have voted.
 Past-Perfect
  • A bright green bird had nested there.
  • The judges had voted.
 Caution: HAVE can act as a main verb as well as an auxiliary:
  •   I have chicken pox.
  • She has all the latest gadgets.
  • had my favorite meal for my birthday.
  • The Smiths had a baby.
 If you analyze sentences like these, you must identify HAVE as a main verb (form-class word), not as an auxiliary. HAVE is only an auxiliary when it  precedes another verb (or a BE auxiliary) to create the Perfect Form.
 
The auxiliary BE signals the Progressive Main Verb Phrase Form by inflecting the present participle [-ing] on the verb that follows it:
 
Present-Progressive
  • Harvey is cooking squash.
 Past-Progressive
  • Harvey was cooking squash.
 The auxiliary BE can also signal the Passive Main Verb Phrase Form by inflecting the past participle [-en or -ed] on the verb that follows it:
 
Present Passive
  • The National Anthem is sung by the whole crowd.
Past Passive
  • The National Anthem was sung by the whole crowd.
 Caution: BE can act as a main verb as well as an auxiliary:
  • Keoni is a student.
  • The lawyers were all in court.
 If you analyze sentences like these, you must identify BE as a main  verb (form-class word), not as an auxiliary. BE is only an auxiliary when it precedes a another  verb to create either the Progressive Form or the Passive Form.
 
Do Auxiliary
DO gets a separate category because DO acts like a modal in that  it does not inflect on the main verb, but DO can also serve as a Main  Verb.
The auxiliary DO occurs in a number of grammatical processes, including:
Creating Questions:
  • He leaves tomorrow.
  • Does he leave tomorrow?
 Forming Negatives:
  • He wants curry for dinner.
  • He doesn’t want curry for dinner.
 Placing Emphasis:
  • This tastes delicious.
  • This does taste delicious!
 Substitution:
  • We want chicken curry more than they want chicken curry.
  • We want chicken curry more than they do.
 Caution: Do can also act as a main verb:
  • Shawna did her own make-up.
  • That meal did me a world of good.
  • You will do as you’re told.
 If you analyze sentences like these, you must identify DO as a main verb (form-class word), not an auxiliary.

 

TRY THESE SIMPLE PRACTICE EXERCISES