The most common auxiliary verbs are "be,"
"do," and "have", and you may also use these
verbs on their own. You use "Will" and "shall"
to express future time.
In each of the following examples, a verb commonly
used as an auxiliary verb appears as a simple predicate:
- She is the chief engineer.
- The tea cups are in the china cabinet.
- Garth does this kind of thing frequently.
- My roommates and I do the laundry every second
- I can't complete my assignment because he still has my
- They have several kinds of gelato in the display
Other common auxiliaries are
"can," "could," "may," "might," "must,"
"ought," "should," "will," and "would." A
verb like these is called a modal auxiliary and expresses necessity, obligation, or
The highlighted word in each of the following
sentences is a modal auxiliary:
- Zora was pleased to learn that she could take several
- The small freckled girl told her neighbours that she
would walk their dog for an appropriate fee.
- Henry told Eliza that she ought to have the hole in the
- The principal told the assembled students that the school board
might introduce a dress code next autumn.
- According to the instructions, we must leave this goo in our hair for twenty minutes.
Several words may intervene between the auxiliary and the verb which goes with it,
as in the following sentences:
- They have not delivered the documents on
- The treasure chest was never
- The health department has recently decided
that all high school students should be immunised against
- Will you walk the dog tonight?
- The ballet corps was rapidly and gracefully
pirouetting about the stage.