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"Verb" Page - 2

Main Verbs and Helping verbs (Axilliary)


A sentence can have both main verb and helping verb (auxiliary verb).

Main verb: A verb which has major meaning in terms of action are called main verb, i.e. write, buy, eat etc. 


Helping verb: A verb which supports the main verb to form the structure of sentence (according to a specific tense) and give us information about the time of action expressed by main verb, is called helping verb or auxiliary verb, i.e. is, am, have, was, had, is, will etc.


Main verb has real meaning and tells more about action while helping verb has no (or little) meaning if it is alone but it adds time information about action if used with main verb to specify the tense or time of the main verb. The examples below will help in better understanding.


   She is eating an apple. (“eat” is main verb while “is” is helping verb)
   She was eating an apple. (“eat” is main verb while “was” is helping verb)


The main verbs in these sentences “eat” convey the information about the action which is done on an apple, while the helping verbs in these sentences "is, and was" tells us the about the time of action by referring to specific tense. In first sentence with helping verb "is" action (eating an apple) is being done right now in the present time while in the second sentence with hepling verb "was" action (eating an apple) was being done in past.


It means the MAIN VERB CONVEYS the meaning of action with a little information about its time, but the HELPING VERB (also called auxilliary Verb) tell us more about the time of action. Helping verbs and main verbs together make a structure of sentence of a specific tense (action and its time)


Use of helping verbs.

There are three primary helping verbs, be, do, and have, which are majorly used in tenses.


  • Be (am, is, are). Forms of “be” are used for continuous tenses.

Example. She is laughing. (Present Continuous tense)

  • Have (have, has, had). Forms of “have” are used in perfect tense.

He has completed his work. (Present prefect tense)
He had bought a car. (Past perfect tense)

  • Do(do, does, did). Forms of “do” are used in indefinite(simple) tenses i.e. present simple tense or past simple tense.

They do not play chess. (Present simple tense)
I did not see him. (Past simple)


Modal Verbs (Modal auxiliaries)

Modal verbs are used to express ideas such as ability, possibility, intention or necessity.

  • Can, could (ability)
  • May might (possibility)
  • Will, shall, would (intention)
  • Should (necessity)
  • Must (necessity)
  • Ought to

Modal verbs can be used before main verb as helping verbs.
I can play violin.
It may rain today.
You must learn the test-taking strategies.
I will call you.


Transitive and intransitive verbs


Transitive Verbs.

A verb which needs to have object in sentence is called transitive verb.
Transitive verbs should have an object in sentence because without subject it does not covey complete meaning.
He bought  ______.

There should be some object in this sentence for verb “buy”. Without an object the verb “bought” does not give complete meaning. To make it more meaningful we use some object for verb “bought” i.e book or computer or car. 


He bought a book.
He bought a computer.
He bought a  computer.


More examples.
John is eating a mango.
He has completedhis work.
I caught a bird in bushes.
She wrote a story.


Intransitive sentence.

A verb which does not need to have object in sentence is called intransitive.
Intransitive verb can give complete meaning with an object in sentence for it.
He slept.
She is laughing.
It has rained.
He is running.
They arrived.


Parts of Speech