The most common helping verbs are
to be: am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been
These are used in progressive tenses and passive voice verbs.
I am writing this sentence.
This sentence was written.
to have: have, has, had
These are used in perfect tenses.
I have read many, many books.
to do: do, does, did
These are emphatic verbs. They emphasize the main verb.
I do know your uncle.
conditionals (also called modal auxiliaries): could, should, would, can, shall, will, may, might, must
These express possibility, obligation, permission, ability, necessity, and intention.
I could play basketball. (It is a possibility that I will be able to.)
I should play basketball. (I have an obligation to do it.)
I would play basketball. (It is a possibility under certain conditions.)
I can play basketball. (I am able to do it.)
I shall play basketball. (used more in British English for first person instead of will [I shall, you will].)
I will play basketall. (It is my intention in the future.)
I may play basketball. (I have permission to do it, or it is a possibility.)
I might play basketball. (It is a possibility.)
I must play basketball. (It is a necessity.)
Challenge 1: Watch out for questions! The subject of the question is often between the helping verb and the main verb. If you keep all the words and rearrange the sentence to a declarative sentence, it may be easier to find the verb phrase.
Are you coming to my party?
You are coming to my party.
Challenge 2: Sometimes the verb phrase can be interrupted by an adverb. Be careful not to include the adverb in the verb phrase. Only verbs on the "Approved List of Helping Verbs" can be helping verbs.
|Approved List of Helping Verbs|
|to be||to have||to do||Conditionals|