Helping verbs (auxiliary verbs) do just what their name implies. They help the main verb in the sentence by telling more about the verb's tense, mood, and voice.
What is a verb phrase?
Verb phrases consist of one main verb and one or more helping/auxiliary verbs.
(Every sentence needs to have at least one main verb, but not every sentence needs a helping/auxiliary verb.)
Sometimes, these verbs are separated by other words.
- When we ask questions, the auxiliary verb often comes at the beginning of the sentence and the main verb comes later.
- Words like never, not, and the contraction n't are not part of the verb. They are adverbs.
Verb Phrases Act as Verbs
This seems obvious, right? They are made up of verbs, so what else would they be acting as?
The point here is that they are made up of multiple words and all of the words come together to act as one part of speech, a verb.
The cheesecake might be exploding.
Might be exploding is telling us what the cheesecake is doing (an action).
Did call is asking what you did (an action).
Owen has become a great cook.
Has become is telling us Owen's state of being (a state of being verb).
Sentence Diagramming & Helping Verbs
Sentence diagrams show us how parts of sentences are related. They make the relationships between words, phrases, and clauses visual. They are awesome. :) Verb phrases are diagrammed on horizontal lines right after the subject.
She must have jumped across the stream.
Do you want to learn more and test yourself? Check out this introductory lesson on diagramming!
Would of, Could of, Should of
This is a common mistake. Would of, could of, and should of are incorrect. The correct version is would have, could have and should have or would've, could've, and should've.
Are These Phrasal Verbs?
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Other Helpful Resources
- This worksheet gives you three pages of exercises. (It doesn't have the answers included, but you can still benefit from going through it!)