Verb Types: Auxiliary Verbs*

Verb Types: Auxiliary Verbs

April 4, 2019

Native English Instructor

Written by Douglas Shaw

Auxiliary verbs (known as helping verbs) are used together with with the main verb to give grammatical information (e.g. tense, voice, express ideas, for instance possibility, necessity and permission):

The auxiliary verbs are commonly used in three different forms.

  • used to form the passive voice.
  • used to form the continuous tense.
  • used to form the perfect tense.

To be – verbs

The verb “to be” – is needed for the present and past continuous, and all passive forms.

“Be” (conjugated) verbs:


To do – verbs

The verb “to do” – is needed to ask questions in the simple present and past tenses or emphasizing an action.



Do and does are similar to modal verbs. They are used to make questions and statements when there is no other auxiliary.

We use do and does to make questions with the  simple present. We use does for the third person singular (she/he/it) and do for the others.

We use do and does with question words where, what, when.

  • Where do Alex and Andrea live?
  • What does Alex do?
  • When does he go to work?

Doesn’t is the contraction of does notDon’t is the contraction of do not.

Questions with who often don’t use do or does:

  • Who lives in that house?
  • Who cleans the park on the holidays?
  • Who works in the library on Monday?

To have – verbs

The verb “to have” – is used in the present and past perfect tenses.




  • Some tenses (e.g. the present perfect continuous tense) need more than one auxiliary verb.

Using the “to be”

Continuous form:

  • I was watching TV when the telephone rang.

In this sentence, (“was”) is the auxiliary verb that helps us to understand when the action (“watch”) happened.

  • We’ll be traveling to Solo during your party.

Using the future continuous tense actually uses two auxiliary verbs. In this sentence, the auxiliary verbs (“will” & “be”) tell us this action (“travel”) takes place in the future.

Passive voice

As we know passive voice shows no action. If you add the phrase “by a purple monster” (from “Monsters Inc.) to the end of your sentence making sure it is still grammatically correct, then you are probably using passive voice.


  • I was hit on the head (by a purple monster) and knocked unconscious.

There is nothing grammatically wrong with passive voice, it is commonly used to make a statement. It’s just not very exciting. It’s more exciting to use active voice.


  • A purple monster from Monsters Inc. hit me on the head and knocked me unconscious.

To have

All perfect tenses use at least one auxiliary verb in addition to “have”.


  • We will have traveled to every part of Indonesia after this trip.
  • I have been living in Indonesia for 15 years.


  • Alex is going to school.
  • They are walking in the park.
  • have seen a movie.
  • Do you drink tea?
  • Don’t waste your time.