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Be, Do and Have Auxiliary Verbs

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Use auxiliary verbs before other verbs to form questions, passives and negative sentences, a compound tense or the passive. Auxiliary verbs are also known as helping verbs. These verbs give us more information about the main verb in a sentence often to give us more detail about time. That is why they are used in progressive and perfect tense sentences.

Although there are 23 'helping verbs' in English, which include modal verbs (will, can, should etc.), the three basic auxiliary verbs are:


I am learning English in Malta.
Are you listening to me?
Is she your sister?
They are reading.
This picture was painted 100 years ago.
They were studying for the IELTS test.


Do you speak English?
She does not like coffee.


Have you got a dog?
I have not got a lot of time.

Be, do and have as main verbs

Remember be, do and have also function as main verbs. They become auxiliary verbs when they help another verb in a sentence. Compare:

Main verb: I am tall.
Auxiliary verb: I am making lunch.

Main verb: I do my homework.
Auxiliary verb: They do not want a drink.

Main verb: I have a plan.
Auxiliary verb: Have you got a spare pen?

Now choose the correct auxiliary verb to complete each sentence:

  • 1) I ___ having a glass of wine.

  • 2) They ____ looking for you.

  • 3) __ they want some more?

  • 4) I ___ taken this test before.

  • 5) She ___ been working.

  • 6) ___ your parents live in Manchester?

  • 7) Our meals ___ cooked by my father.

  • 8) She ___ bought new shows.

  • 9) ___ your brothers all work in the city?

  • 10) ___ you been to Toronto?