The Helping (Auxiliary) Verbs

Definition of Auxiliary Verb: A verb that helps to form other verbs.

The words in the purple cells are a special kind of auxiliary verb called a modal auxiliary.

do has may should shall ought (to)
does have might would will  
did had must could can  
Forms of 
to be:
is am are was were be being been

Some usage problems:

Had ofIlliterate for had
ILLITERATE: I wish I had of gone.
RIGHT: I wish I had gone.

Had oughtIlliterate combination
WRONG: He hadn't of ought to have gone.
He ought not to have gone.

WRONG: He ought to go, had he not?
He ought to go, ought he not?

Have got.  Colloquial and redundant.
COLLOQUIAL: I have got ten dollars.
STANDARD: I have ten dollars.

Can, may  Can means to be able; may means to have permission.
RIGHT: Mary can (is able to) drive the car.
May I drive the car?

Should of.  Illiterate corruption of should have.

We play a silly game at our house that involves the helping verbs. Sometimes one of the kids will ask a one-word question such as, 'when' or 'why'. I reply to my child's one word question with a helping verb that is not one of the 'be' verbs and that starts the game. The child then has to say a helping verb (not a 'be' verb). Then I have to say a helping verb. There is an even number of auxiliary verbs and because of that your child will always win once he/she has memorized them. 

This game originated because many questions begin with an auxiliary verb. Ask your kids if they can start a sentence with an auxiliary verb that is not a question. 

The rules: No helping verb can be said twice and the one who can't think of a helping verb loses. The winner only wins if he/she can recite the be verbs. 

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Donna Young

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