A helping verb helps to describe the action of a main verb in a sentence. Usually, they give the reader more detail about when the action takes place.
A word cannot be an auxiliary verb unless there is another verb to help. Together, the main verb and its auxiliary verb are called a verb phrase.
Some auxiliary verbs also act as linking verbs. You can spot the difference between auxiliary and linking verbs, because linking verbs will not be attached to any other verbs in the sentence and link the subject of the verb to a further description of the verb.
When trying to spot helping verbs, keep in mind that they must always be helping another verb. Also, verbs that end in '-ing' will often have a helping verb.
She is thinking about going to bed.
The helping verb is 'is.' The verb phrase is 'is thinking.'
He does eat often.
The helping verb is 'does.' The verb phrase is 'does eat.'
Have you seen my keys?
The helping verb is 'have.' The verb phrase is 'have seen.'
The 23 helping verbs are:
can, could, has, have, had, am, are, do, does, did, be, being, been, shall, should, will, would, was, were, is, may, might, must
In the following sentences, spot the verb phrase.