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Helping verbs

Helper or auxiliary verbs are forms of "to have" and "to be" that help other verbs in a sentence. They can help clarify when an action is taking place, as in "They had already eaten dinner by the time the package arrived." In that sentence, "had ... eaten" indicates that the action had finished.

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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Hello grammarians! Now, we've already talked about how verbs can show actions and link concepts, and today I'd like to talk about a third function of the verb, which is helping other verbs. Now we call this the helping verb, you may have heard it called that, or the auxiliary verb. These are just two words for the same thing, auxiliary is just a more Latin way to say helping, that's all it means. Now I've brought along an image of my friend Brian to help explain this principle. What helping verbs are is really just inflected forms of the verbs to have, and to be. And as we get deeper into the verb, I'll explain what each one means in each one of its different versions, but for now, suffice it to say, I'm just gonna throw out some examples, just so you can see what it means for a helping verb to be a helping verb. So the specific way in which helping verbs help is that they establish certain facts about a sentence, usually when they're happening in time. And we'll get more and more into that as we get more into tenses and aspect, but I just wanna give you some examples. So, here we have Brian is eating a pizza. Brian and I love pizza, we used to eat a lot of pizza. Brian has eaten a pizza. Brian was eating a pizza. And, finally, Brian had been eating a pizza. So the presence of all these helping verbs has different effects depending on which ones you use. And, as I said, we'll get into those later, but, just for a brief overview, for example, let's see, Brian is eating a pizza, that suggests that it's going on now. Brian has eaten a pizza, that means he had done it, it's over, in the past. Brian was eating a pizza, which means he was in the middle of eating a pizza when something happened. And, finally, Brian had been eating a pizza. So he was doing it, and then he stopped at some point in time. And this is just the most basic introduction to helping verbs. So, verbs can show actions, verbs can link concepts, verbs can help other verbs. You can learn anything. David out.