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What is the difference between main and helping verbs?

A helping verb accompanies the main verb in a clause and helps to make distinctions in mood, voice, aspect, and tense. A helping or auxiliary verb (such as have, can, or will) accompanies the main verb in a clause and helps to make distinctions in mood, voice, aspect, and tense. The main verb represents the chief action in the sentence. Some helping verbs can also stand alone and act as a main verb, e.g., be, being, been, am, are, is, was, were, do, does, did, have, had, and has. Other helping verbs have to work with a main verb: may, might, must, could, should, would, can, shall, and will. Remember that sometimes another word separates the helping verb from the main verb, as in "She could not find her keys" where not separates them. Up to three helping verbs can accompany a main verb, "The child must have been teasing the cat", but many main verbs do not need any helping verb.

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