Auxiliaries and Modal Verbs

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Auxiliaries and Modal Verbs - Types and Examples

An Auxiliary Verb is called a ‘Helping Verb’. It helps the main verb in different aspects of tenses, voices, and moods by being placed before them. The Auxiliary verbs are also called Special Verbs or Anomalous Verbs. There are twelve words: be, do, have, can, may, shall, will, must, ought, used (to), need, dare.

Example:

She is wearing a blue dress. They were singing the national anthem.

They have painted their house. Dilip has been going to school.


Link Verbs Help Active Sentences Turn Into Passive Voice.

Example:

They paint the house every year. (Active)

The house is painted every year. (Passive)

The flood washed away the animals. (Active)

Animals were washed away in the flood. (Passive)


Kinds of Auxiliaries Verbs

The Auxiliaries are two kinds:

  1. Primary Auxiliaries

  2. Modal Auxiliaries


  1. Primary Auxiliaries

Primary Auxiliaries are used as main verbs to denote time (present, past and future).

Example:

I am watching cricket on TV.

His grandfather was watering the plants on the balcony. 

They are also used as main verbs or linking verbs in sentences. They change their forms according to the numbers of the persons in the subject of a sentence. 

Example:

Aanya is a good dancer. It was a nice day.

Kuldeep does his homework regularly. She did the work yesterday.

The people are religious. The monks were vegetarians.

I have two sisters. I had a headache yesterday.

In the above sentences the verbs like is, does, are, have are used as linking verbs. They perform the role of main verbs, although they are auxiliaries in origin. 

The primary auxiliaries are: be, do and have.

The word  ‘be’ can be written as: am, is, are, was, were. After ‘be’ auxiliaries two forms of a verb are possible. They are Present Participle – being and Past Participle – been. 


Is/ are/ am/ was/ were + Present Participle (V + ing)

Example:

I am learning French these days.

She is jumping on the floor.

In the above examples, ing is added to the verb like learn+ing, jump+ing.


Is/ are/ am/ was/ were + Past Participle 

Example: 

The novel ‘Merchant of Venice’ is written by William Shakespeare.

The letters were written by him.

The child was looked after by her.

They are treated well by us.

In the above examples, the past participle form of a verb is used after ‘be’ words in passive voice.

The word ‘do’ can be written as: do, does, did. 

  • ‘Do’ is used in an emphatic case in a positive sentence. 

  • It also forms the interrogative of the Simple Present (one-word verb) and of the Simple Past (one-word verb). 

  • ‘Do’ is used in order to make a request. 

  • ‘Do, does and did’ are used in simple present or simple past tenses in negative sentences. 


Example:

I do visit the library every Sunday. (‘do’ is used in emphatic case)

I don’t like sweets. ( used in negative sentences)

Do you have a pen? ( used as an interrogative word)

Please do come for the Diwali Part. (used as an request)

The word ‘have’ can be written as: have, has, and had.

The perfect form all the tenses and times (Present, Past, Future) are built with the help of have, has, had as per the following structure. 


Have/ has/ had/ + Past Participle of the Main Verb Is Used in a Sentence.

Example:

I have talked to the Principal twice over the issue. 

He has given us permission to organize a conference.

She had given these sweets to me before.

Note: is, are, am, was, were, has, have, had, etc. can be used with ‘to infinitive’.


The Structure is as follows: is/ are/ am/ was/ were/ has/ have/ had + to + Main verb

Example: 

Mother is to see the doctor tomorrow.

I have to meet him today.

He has to complete his task before Sunday.

We are to move to our new house next month.

Were is used for supposition or unfulfilled desire.


The Structure is as Follows: were + subject + complement/ predicate

Example:

Were I a bird!

Were I the President!

Were she beautiful!


  1. Modal Auxiliaries

Modal Auxiliaries play a very meaningful role in a grammatically correct sentence. Modal Auxiliaries denote certain feelings, moods and possibilities. Modal Auxiliaries denote certain feelings, moods and possibilities. 

Unlike be, have and do, the Modal Auxiliaries cannot function as Main Verbs except in few cases. 

The Modal Auxiliary words are: may, can might, could, will, would, shall, should, must, used to, need, dare, ought to, used to, etc. 

Example:

You can use my phone. (the italicized and underlined modal verb denotes possibility)

It may rain today. (the italicized and underlined modal verb denotes possibility)

You shall complete the task tomorrow.(the modal word denotes command or order)

My grandfather used to have a scooter. (the modal word denotes past habit)

I would visit him twice a week when he was in the hospital. (the modal word denotes frequency of past events)

I must go home now. (the italicized modal verb denotes necessity)

We must obey the law of the land. (the italicized modal verb denotes command or 

order)


Rules to use Modal Verbs

Rule 1: All modal auxiliaries are followed by the base form of the verb. 

Modal + Verb

Example: 

I will build the house next year.

You can come to our house in the evening.


Rule 2: Two modal verbs cannot go together. One complete sentence can have only one modal verb.

Example:

  We will be back by 9 o’clock. is not the correct way to write.

  We should write, We must be back by 9 o’clock.


Rule 3: They have no non-finite forms. They are always finite.

Example:

Seema will meet you soon is correct.

In the above example, the first verb i.e. ‘will’ is finite. The second verb i.e. meet is non-finite. Finite verb makes or completes a sentence. 


Rule 4: They have single forms for all subjects or persons.

Example:

I can, we can, he can, she can, Seema can, people can, etc.  

I will, He will, they will, etc.


Rule 5: They act as auxiliary verbs. We cannot build a sentence by using modals only.

Example:

We cannot write, “ No one should in the public.” In this line, a full verb denoting certain action is not there.

We must write, “ No one should smoke in the public.” In this line, the verb ‘smoke’ completes the sentence.


Solved Solutions

Q1. Pick Out the Auxiliary Verbs from the Following Sentences.

  1. He does not believe in others.

  2. She could run for miles.

  3. I will help you.

  4. Vivek must have left this note.

  5. He has been working in the garden since morning.

  6. Do not laugh at the beggar.

  7. I have not seen Ramesh all day. 

  8. He was sleeping then.

  9. My friend has won the prize.

  10. They are working on the project.

Solution

  1. does not

  2. could

  3. will

  4. must have

  5. has been

  6. do not

  7. have not

  8. was

  9. has

  10. are


Q2. Fill in the Blanks With the Appropriate Verbs.

  1. Children ___________ obey their teachers. (would/ should)

  2. Babar ___________ swim across the river when he was a young man. (can/ could)

  3. _____________ you live long ! (may/ might)

  4. We ________ speak the truth. (would/ should)

  5. We _________ not hurry, we have yet plenty of time. ( must/ need)

Solution

  1. Children should obey their teachers.

  2. Babar could swim across the river when he was a young man.

  3. May you live long!

  4. We should speak the truth.

  5. We need not hurry, we have plenty of time.