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It’s very probable that you, when studying English, came across the famous auxiliary verbs, as example: Do you study English here?

The auxiliary verb, in English is also called helper verb.

Have you ever wondered why?

As the name says, the auxiliary verb helps us comprehend and understand the behavior of a clause. He gives us support, help us understanding negatives and interrogatives as well. Using the auxiliary do as example:

  • You study English every week. – No auxiliary whatsoever
  • I do study English every week. – Emphasizes the positive
  • Do you study English every week? – Helps composing the interrogatives
  • I don’t study English every week. – Helps composing the negatives + not
  • I do not study English every week. – Emphasizes the negative when not contracted


If analyzed, the auxiliary verb has a standard behavior; in interrogative clauses, it switches its position with the pronoun (I, he, she, etc.), therefore we know and understand it’s an interrogative clause.

In negatives clauses, the auxiliary verb comes with the negative not or n’t when contracted or in the short form.

We can also use it in positive sentences to create an emphasizing aspect in an affirmation, just as when a mother is scolding her child and therefore calling them by each of their names:

“– John-Jenkins-Smith come inside right now!”

Or “I DO study English!”, conferring emphasis to an affirmation, like “I study English”, probably to strengthen a statement that has been put to question.

Now, all this look like a bunch of rules that instead of helping us, just make things even more complicated, right? Let’s summarize and extend a little bit.


First, summarizing;

The auxiliary verb has a very predictable and standard behavior in pretty much any situation, being the only difference, the meaning they have in the sentence, exemplifying, the auxiliaries do, can, might, all use the same grammatical pattern, but with distinguished meaning.


  • I can speak English very well – possibility or abilities
  • I might speak English today – possibility, availability


  • I can’t speak English very well – lack of ability or possibility
  • I might not speak English today – lack of possibility or availability
  • I don’t want to study today – lack of desire (auxiliary here represents no meaning)


  • Can I speak English well? – possibility or abilities
  • Might I speak English today?  –  possibility, availability
  • Are you working at home now? – location, action


Finally, it’s possible to analyze that, in general, auxiliary verbs have functionalities that express time, voice, emphasis, modality, etc. and although they facilitate comprehension, we need to pay close attention to its usage, since it is very common in several languages.


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