ABE English Tutorials/Simple sentences/helping verbs

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Helping Verbs

Tutorial.png Simple Sentences 

Intro to writing skills | Intro to a sentence | Helping verbs | Adding modifiers | Kinds of sentences | Writing simple sentences | Finding objects and phrases | Here and There | Spelling: Part 1 | Spelling List 1 | Writing with objects and phrases | Verbs that change with Number | Verbs that change with Time | Irregular Verbs | Verb Participles | Writing with verb tenses | Compound Subjects | Subject-Verb Agreeement | Understanding sentence lists | Sentence Fragments | Writing sentence lists | Review for Unit 1 |


More about Verbs:

In the last lesson, you were introduced to verbs. Many verbs are action verbs. These are verbs like: run, jump, slide, see, lift, give, worship. You can actually see, inside your head, an idea of somebody doing these things.

Other verbs are helping verbs. These are verbs like: have, can, might, is, would (for a longer list, see the box to the right). Sometimes you find these verbs by themselves, but most of the time they are with another verb:

  • I was shopping last week.
  • He had been coughing for a month.
  • I am going to bed at 10 o'clock.
  • My father must lose some weight.
  • He doesn't like hamburgers.
  • I am very tired.
  • John is a tall man.

Can you pick out the whole verb (helper verb + action verb) in each of the following sentences?

  1. I was sitting on a red ant hill.
  2. Howard could eat 20 hamburgers.
  3. My mother might like a new car.
  4. The dog became excited about the smell.
  • Helping Verbs
  • will
  • can
  • may
  • might
  • is
  • are
  • am
  • become
  • became
  • does
  • do
  • did
  • would
  • could
  • should
  • was
  • were
  • must
  • have
  • has
  • had
  • been

Ready for the answers?

  1. He was sitting
  2. could eat
  3. might like
  4. became excited

Of course, some sentences have more than one helper verb. And some sentences have no action verbs at all. Sometimes the helper verb can be combined with the word "not"; as in don't (do not), doesn't (does not), won't (will not). For example, in the sentence:

She couldn't remember her phone number.

... the full verb is "couldn't remember". The word "of" is never a helping verb!

Incorrect: Marlene should of done her homework earlier in the day.

Correct: Marlene should have done her homework earlier in the day.

See if you can find the full verb in each of the following sentences:

  1. Carmen won't forget your birthday.
  2. The house has been empty for six months.
  3. Mike is my grandson.
  4. The weather could be getting colder tomorrow.

Here are the answers:

  1. won't forget
  2. has been
  3. is
  4. could be getting

Sometimes when the sentence is a question, the two parts of a verb can get a word in between them. Here are some examples. The two parts of the verb have been bolded.

  1. Have you finished your supper yet?
  2. Did you want another cup of coffee?
  3. Couldn't you go to the store later on today?

Find the verbs in these questions:

  1. Can you wait for me a little longer?
  2. Will he be going to work today?
  3. Have the boys been good while I was gone?

Now for the answers:

  1. can wait
  2. will be going
  3. have been

Note that the little mail icon is at the top of this page, too. (In fact, it will be at the top of most of the lesson pages.) If you're still having trouble understanding this lesson, click on the top mail icon to write a note to the instructor. (Make sure that you tell the instructor what subject and what lesson you need help with!)

If you're ready for the homework, click here.