Grammar – Auxiliaries / Modals / Helping Verbs

Auxiliaries are helping verbs that are used with the main verb to express the modes and manners of actions denoted by the main verbs. Auxiliaries can be divided into two parts:
1. Primary Auxiliaries
2. Modal Auxiliaries
(1) Primary Auxiliaries:  Be, do, has, had and have.
Characteristic Features:
(a) They are helping verbs.
(b) They help to form tenses, questions and negatives.
(c) They are used in changing verbs in the passive voice.
(d) They can be used independently as principal verbs.
(e) They change according to person, number and form of tenses.
(f) They can be used as the infinitive form of the verbs.
(g) The can be changed into participles by adding ‘ing’ to them.
(a) Do you like German food?
(b) Blood is thicker than water.
(c) They were absent in the class.
(d) Does your mother speak English?
(e) Did you come to school yesterday?
(f) Why are you talking? You should be listening to me!
(g) I was having a bath when you called!
(h) A new road is being built behind the school.
(i) Have you done your homework?
(j) My father has never visited the USA.
(k) How long have you been living in Germany?
(l) By this time next year I will have been learning English for 35 years!
(2) Modal Auxiliaries:   Will, would Shall, Should, Can, Could, May, Might, Must, Need, Dare, Have to, Used to, and Ought to.
Characteristic Features:
(a) They are always used with a principal verbs.
(b) They are never used alone.
(c) They do not change according to person or number of the subject.
(d) They do not have the infinitive, present participle or past participle forms.
(e) The have no ‘ing’ or ‘ed’ forms and do not add’s’ to the third person singular.
(f) They cannot be used in all tenses.
(a) You may go.
(b) She might pass this year.
(c) The will study hard.
(d) He should finish his work quickly.
(e) He could be anywhere now.
(f) Would you close the door?
(g) You must consult some good doctor.
(h) You have to obey your officer.
(i) We ought to love our fellow beings.
(j) How dare he say such rude things about me?
(k) He need not worry anymore.
(l) I am used to such behaviour.
Uses of Modal Auxiliaries




To express simple future
To express an invitation
To express command
To express  a request
To express prediction
To express unwillingness
To express determination
To indicate a certain future situation

He will reach there in time.
Will you have a cup of tea with me?
You will reach here in time.
Will you pass this message to him?
You will catch cold if you go out.
He won’t return the money.
We will fight to the last.
You will see that they are married.



To express simple future
To express an offer
To express command
To express  assurance
To express threat
To express certainty

I shall not withdraw from the contest
Shall I close the gate?
You shall not touch my book.
You shall have it in two days.
You shall be jailed if you steal.
School shall remain closed on Monday.



To express polite request
To express preference
To express  a hopeless wish
To express determination
To express a desire
To express a wish
To express future in the past
To express habitual action

Would you please close the door?
I would die rather than beg.
If only it would stop hailing.
I would do it at all costs.
I would like to play for this team.
I wish he would reach here soon.
He asked me if I would help him.
He would visit his parents every Monday.



To express fear (With Lest)
To express obligation/duty
To express probability 
To express necessity
To express future (Condition)
To express past of shall
To express advice

Work hard lest you should fail.
You should help the poor.
He should be here at this time.
Food should be ready by nine.
Should he run fast, he will win the race.
She should be given this responsibility.
I told him that I should miss the train.



To express ability/capacity
To grant permission
To seek permission
To express  possibility
To express informal request

I can lift this box.
You can join today.
Can I leave now?
It can happen to anyone.
Can you move your chair a bit please?



To express past of can
To express ability not utilized in the past
To express  past ability
To express polite request

I told him that I could not do it.
You could have secured 90 marks in the Board Exams.
He could lift 100 kg. weight.
Could you lend me your book.



To express possibility
To express a wish
To express  a purpose
To seek permission
To grant permission

It may rain today.
May God bless you!
We eat so that we may live.
May I come in, sir?
You may go after you finish you work.



To express suggestion
To express remote possibility
To express past of may
To express a doubtful possibility
To express a purpose
To express more polite form of permission

You might try it again.
I might win the lottery.
I asked him if I might help him.
He might come in the evening.
He worked hard so that he might crack the AIPMT.
Might I ask a question?



To express possibility
To express determination
To express necessity
To express obligation
To express emphatic advice
To express duty

The child must be feeling thirsty.
You must pass with flying colours.
You must be back by evening.
He must clear his dues.
You must consult the doctor.
A priest must lead a pious life.



is used mostly in the negative and Interrogative sentences..

You need not attend the meeting.
He needn’t wait for me.
Need I go there?



means ‘to take courage’ or 
‘venture’. It is used in the negative or Interrogative sentences.

He dare not fight with me.
Dare he come to my house?
I dare not oppose him.
He will hardly dare go there again.


Have to

To express compulsion or necessity

I have to borrow money from him.
They don’t have to keep awake at night.
Have you to wash your own clothes?


Ought to

To express duty or desirability or moral and social obligation

You ought to respect your teachers.
He ought to build a new house now.
He ought to have helped his brother.


Used to

To express a habit in the past. It is used in the past tense only.
*present habit (accustomed to)It is also used to show 

I used to play chess when I was young.
I used to live here.
*I am not used to getting up early.
He is used to a hard life.

Note: Dare and Need when used as main verbs are followed by to+infinitive. For example:
(a) He dares to jump into the well.
(b) He needs to go there.

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