Auxiliary Verbs

Contrast the properties of lexical and auxiliary verbs

subject
 

Properties of Lexical  vs. Auxiliary Verbs

LEXICAL VERBS

Lexical verbs can be marked for tense and person. In English, these include the past and the present tenses. All other tenses are formed with one or more verb types: auxiliaries, modals and participles. Lexical verbs — have meaning —  and normally use do support for questions, negatives and emphasis.                                                                                                 

LEXICAL VERBS HAVE MEANING AND MARK TENSE & PERSON

Charlie raises his hand.   third person marker -s

Charlie raised his hand.   past tense marker -d   

NEGATION —NEGATES AUXILIARY DO WITH NOT

Charlie does not raise his hand.   third person marker -s on do

Charlie did not raise his hand.   past tense marker -d on do 

 

INVERSION — INVERTS AUXILIARY DO

Does Charlie raise his hand?   3rd person

Did Charlie raise his hand?    past tense marker -d on do 

CODE — INCLUDES AUXILIARY DO IN "AND…TOO" EXPRESSIONS

Charlie raises his hand and I do too. 

Charlie raised his hand and I did too.  

EMPHASIS –  INCLUDES AUXILIARY DO IN EMPHASIS

They don't think Charlie raised his hand, but he raised.

They don't think Charlie raised his hand, but he did.

 

AUXILIARY VERBS

Auxiliary verbs are characteristically used as markers of tense, person, aspect, mood, and voice.  With lexical verbs, these are expressed by verb inflections; however, with auxiliary verbs, these are expressed with separate words.  Auxiliary verbs are defined by NICE properties (negation, inversion, code, emphasis) as outlined below.  (Huddleston 92)

HAVE NO LEXICAL MEANING BUT MARK TENSE & PERSON

Charlie has raised his hand.  third person marker -s

Charlie had raised his hand.  past tense marker -d

NEGATION — NEGATES AUXILIARY WITH NOT

Charlie hasn't raised his hand.

Charlie has not raised his hand.

INVERSION — INVERTS THE AUXILIARY

Has Charlie raised his hand.  third person marker -s

Had Charlie raised his hand.  past tense marker -d

 

CODE — INCLUDES AUXILIARY IN "AND…TOO" EXPRESSIONS

Charlie has raised his hand and I have too. 

Charlie had raised his hand and I had too.

EMPHASIS –  DOESN'T INCLUDE AUXILIARY DO IN EMPHASIS

They don't think Charlie has raised his hand, but he has.

 

 

Both lexical and auxiliary verbs are considered primary (finite) verbs – inflected with tense and person.

(Swan 85)

 

 

 

 

 

Auxiliary Verbs

Verb Forms

 

 

Auxiliary Forms

AUXILIARY + NEXT FORM TYPE PRES / (FUTURE) PAST PERFECT

MODAL PLAIN FORM
— will, would, may, might,can, could, shall, should, ought

Charlie willraise his hand.

Charlie wouldraise his hand.

Charlie willhave raised his hand by then. (future perfect)

Charlie wouldhave raised his hand. (conditional perfect)

PERFECT PAST PARTICIPLE
has, have, had  

Charlie hasraised his hand.

Charlie had raised his hand.

Charlie hadraised his hand.

PROGRESSIVE  GERUND-PARTICIPLE
is / are, was / were, been 

Charlie israising his hand.

Charlie wasraising his hand.

Charlie had beenraising his hand.

PASSIVE PAST PARTICIPLE
is / are, was / were, been 
     

His hand Israised.

His hand  was ⇒raised.

Charlie's hand has beenraised.

Charlie's hand had beenraised.

Also see Auxiliary Verbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Auxiliary Verbs

Combinations

 

 

 

Combinations of Auxiliary Verbs

MODAL PERFECT PROGRESSIVE PASSIVE LEXICAL VERB

1. 

 

 

 

makes

2.

 

 

is

made

3.

 

is

 

making

4.

 

is

being

made

5.

has

 

 

made

6.

has

 

been

made

7.

has

been

 

making

8.

has

been

being

made

9.   will

 

 

 

make

10. will

 

 

be

made

11. will

 

be

 

making

12. will

 

be

being

made

13. will

have

 

 

made

14. will

have

 

been

made

15. will

have

been

 

made

16. will

have

been

being

made

(Huddleston 104-5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Auxiliary Verbs

Dual Category Verbs

 

 

 

Lexical / Auxiliary Category

LEXICAL VERB

In these examples, the verbs require do support.

Do I need to ask?   (require)

I don't dare tell you.   (require)

I had a question.   (require)

He does his homework.   (require)
 

AUXILIARY VERB

The same verbs can be define with NICE properties.  (negation, inversion, code and emphasis)

Need I ask?

Dare I tell you?

I had asked you before.

He doesn't complete all his work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Be" Auxiliary

Lexical vs. Auxiliary

 

 

 

"Be" Lexical vs. Auxiliary

LEXICAL PROPERTIES

Be has characteristics of both lexical and auxiliary verbs. As a lexical verb, it can be inflected with tense and person, and be can be the main verb of a sentence. However, be also shares some auxiliary NICE properties such as Negation, Inversion, Code, and Emphasis.

ASCRIPTIVE – equates a quality to someone or something

Charlie is a clever student.     

Charlie isn't a clever student. (inflects with negation)

Is Charlie a clever student?  (Inverts the auxiliary with the subject.)

Charlie is a clever student and I am too.  (is included in "and…too" expressions)

They don't think Charlie is clever, but he is(is used for emphasis)

IDENTIFYING – tells which one or person

Charlie is the troublemaker. 
 

MOTIONAL

Charlie has been to the Principal's office twice already.  (has gone)
 

LEXICAL – become

Why don't you be more considerate? Note the "do" support!

 

 

AUXILIARY PROPERTIES

Be as an auxiliary verb is used with progressive, passive, or quasi-modal.  The auxiliary be has NICE (negation, inversion, code and emphasis) properties.                                                                                                                                                                                 

PROGRESSIVE

Charlie was raising his hand.  

Charlie wasn't raising his hand.

Was Charlie raising his hand.

Charlie was raising his hand, and I was too.

The teacher didn't think Charlie was raising his hand, but he was.

PASSIVE

Charlie was told to sit down.

PASSIVE PROGRESSIVE

Charlie was being kept in the Principal's office.  (aux + gerund-participle + past part.)

*QUASI-MODAL –  will / be going to

You are not to tell anyone. *

Occurs only as a primary form.  See Am going to / Am to

Charlie is not to raise his hand again.

Are we to be here all day?

 

Also see Copular Verbs and Ascriptive vs. Specifying "Be" Specifying "be"

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modal Auxiliary Verbs

Properties

 

 

 

Modal Properties

MODAL AUXILIARIES

Unlike auxiliaries, modals carry meaning and "mood".  They express the speakers opinion about the following verb phrase.  "They are used before the infinitives of other verbs, and add certain kinds of meaning connected with certainty, or with obligation, and freedom to act." (Swan 353)

USE NO SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT

Charlie can answer the question.  

ARE FOLLWED BY "BARE INFINITIVE"

Charlie can answer the question.  [plain form] 

DO NOT USE BE OR DO SUPPORT

Can Charlie  answer the question?   

No, Charlie cannot answer the question.

ARE USED WITH REMOTE (UNREAL) CONDITIONALS WITHOUT TENSE RESTRICTION

If you knew the answer now, you could respond(remote)
You don't happen to know the answer, but if you did, you could respond.

If you know the answer now, you can/could respond(open)
In the potential situation that you know the answer, you can respond.

DO NOT RESTRICT MEANING TO PAST TENSE IN SUBORDINATED CLAUSES

I wish Charlie could / would be quiet. (past/future)

After studying very hard, he could pass his test.  (needs limitation to past only)

LEXICAL FORMS

The lexical forms of modals mean almost the same, but have some grammatical differences. (can–is able to, knows how to; will – is going to; must – have to; should – ought to, etc.)

USE SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT

Charlie is able to answer the question.

ARE FOLLOWED BY  TO + INFINITIVE

Charlie is able to answer the question.

USE DO OR BE SUPPORT IN QUESTIONS AND NEGATIVES

Is Charlie able to answer the question. No, he isn't able to.

Does Charlie know how to answer the question. No, he doesn't know how to.

RESTRICT TENSE TO A PARTICLUALR ONE IN CONDITIONAL STATMENTS

*If you knew the answer now, you were able to respond restricted  to past
If you knew the answer now, you would be able to respond

If you know the answer now, you are able to respond
 

RESTRICT MEANING TO PAST TENSE WITHIN SUBORDINATED CLAUSES

I wish Charlie were able to be quiet.  (past)

After studying very hard, he was able to pass his test. (limited to past, single event)

 

Modals might and should are no longer used with past tense meaning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grammar Notes

Traditional and Linguistic Description

Advanced

 

 

Auxiliary Verbs

TRADITIONAL DESCRIPTION LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION

In traditional grammar, auxiliary verbs are treated as auxiliary combinations with other verbs (verb groups).  (Huddleston 104)

In linguistic description, auxiliaries are main verbs followed by gerund-participle or past participle verb forms in subordinated nonfinite clauses.  This analysis simplifies the overall description of the verb system, but adds complexity to the sentence with a subordinated clause.  (Also see Secondary Verbs.)

AUXILIARY VERB GROUPED WITH MAIN VERB AUXILIARY VERB IS MAIN VERB FOLLOWED BY  GERUND-PARTICIPLE

diagram - Charlie wants to raise his hand.

Diagram: Charlie hates sitting all day.

 

 

 

Modals Auxiliary Verbs

TRADITIONAL DESCRIPTION LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION

In traditional grammar, modals are treated as auxiliary combinations with verbs (verb groups).   

In current linguistic analysis, modals are main verbs followed by "bare infinitives". That is, the modal is followed by an infinitival form without "to" in a subordinated nonfinite clause.

MODAL IS PART OF A VERB GROUP MODAL IS MAIN VERB AND IS FOLLOWED BY A  SUBORDINATED NONFINITE CLAUSE

diagram - Charlie wants to raise his hand.

Diagram: Charlie hates sitting all day.

For syntactic auxiliary analysis, see Huddleston 1209.

 

 

Resources

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Explaining English

sign saying we speak English
 

 

Read the Context

English, like all languages, is full of problems for non-native speakers. One point is easily explained, such as the difference between for and since, but another point is trickier, such as the difference between the articles a and the. When do we use the past tense or the past perfect?

Instructors do what they can to make points clear. Most instructors have succeeded in explaining complex ideas in simple ways. Most instructors have a number of ways to teach and illustrate the points.

illustrate (V) – to make clear with diagrams

tricky – a problem requiring a clever solution; trickier (comparative form)

 

 

 

 

Identify the verb category: lexical verb or an auxiliary verb.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your responses to the answers by clicking the "Check" or the "Check 1-6" button at the bottom.

 

1.
English, like all languages, is full of problems for non-native speakers.


2.
One point is easily explained, such as the difference between for and since, but another point is trickier, such as the difference between the articles a and the.

3.
When do we use the past tense or the past perfect?


4.
Instructors do what they can to make points clear. 


5.
Most instructors have succeeded in explaining complex ideas in simple ways.


6.
Most instructors have a number of ways to teach and illustrate the points.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

Language Description

From Fowler to Chomsky
 

 

Read the Context

Language is constantly changing and adapting to  the needs of its speakers. Grammar descriptions written in the earlier part of the nineteen hundreds are still being taught by some instructors. English was likened to Latin and French rather than being analyzed (analysed) more globally with reasoned proofs. Modern linguistic descriptions have rejected many errors of the older tradition and have several departures from traditional grammar with reasoned argument.

New linguistic descriptions can be challenging for instructors still working within the older ways of describing language. However, a closer look will lead them to find a less complex and more accurate system for presenting the English language to students.

accurate (ad.) – exact, correct

analyzed (US-en) / analysed (Br-en) – to examine carefully and in detail so as to identify elements and relationships

challenging (Adj) – difficult to overcome

complex (Adj) – complicated, confusing

departures (N)  – different methods

globally (adv.) – worldly; internationally

liken (V) – represent as similar or like; compare

reasoned proofs – scientific methods

reject (V) – not accept

 

 

 

Identify the auxiliary verb type.

  1. Select your response.
  2. Compare your responses to the answers by clicking the "Check" or the "Check 7-12" button at the bottom.

 

7.
Language is constantly changing and adapting to the needs of its speakers.


8.
Grammar descriptions written in the earlier part of the nineteen hundreds are still being taught by some instructors.


9.
English was likened to Latin and French rather than being analyzed (analysed) more globally with reasoned proofs. 


10.
Modern linguistic descriptions have rejected many errors of the older tradition and have several departures from traditional grammar with reasoned argument.


11.
New linguistic descriptions can be challenging for instructors still working within the older ways of describing language.


12.
However, a closer look will lead them to find a less complex and more accurate system for presenting the English language to students.


 

 

 

 

 

Fowler's bookPractice 3

Tyranny of Taste

 

 

 

 

Read for Errors

Traditional grammarians tell us that we never ___ end a sentence with a preposition. However, it is not clear why they  ___ declared] this rule.

There are many situations in which one ___ end a sentence with a preposition. For example, when you ___ using a verb expression, such as look up, you wouldn't say, "Up which keyword did you look?" 

Split infinitives ___ profited as well. How would "To go boldly where no man ___ gone before,"  sound to a Star Trek fan?

And starting a sentence with but ___ not permitted. Hopefully, you ___ never done that. Unfortunately, that is another rule that I ___ not going to ever understand.  Why ___ grammarians make up such nonsense?

 

 

 

 

Complete the auxiliary form.

  1. Select your response.
  2. Compare your responses to the answers by clicking the "Check" or the "Check 13-22" button at the bottom.

 

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