Auxiliary Verbs
(also called helping verbs)

Main verbs may be combined with auxiliary verbs to create verb phrases which indicate mood, tense, or voice. The main verb always follows the auxiliary verb.

Common Auxiliary Verbs (sometimes called modal or helping verbs)

be might
can (denotes ability or permission) must (denotes necessity, obligation, or inference)
could ought (denotes duty or obligation)
do shall (denotes a sense of complusion or duty)
had should
have will
may (denotes wishfulness, permission, or purpose) would (sometimes expresses a conditional statement)

In addition to changing the tense of the main verb, auxiliary verbs may also indicate mood or voice.

Tense shows the time in which the act, state, or condition occurs or occurred.
Mood indicates the way in which the verb expresses an action or state of being. The three moods are indicative, imperative, and subjunctive.
Voice shows whether the subject acts (active voice) or is acted on (passive voice).

See Verb Tenses, Mood, and Voice for more information.


I have written a letter to my bank.
He was driving too fast.
Snow has fallen thickly on the ground.
Do you want more?
We do plan to plant soon.
Did you find it?
We must go.
It could happen.
He will leave next Sunday.
You may go to the dance.
Michael should plow the driveway soon.
I might cook steak tonight.
Ann could walk to the library.
We ought to invite some friends.
Rob had looked everywhere for his keys.
I would recognize the car if I saw it again.
May you always have blue skies and green pastures.

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