This new series will focus on the subject that makes learning a new language a bit harder, grammar! We have all said at one point or another “I want to learn to speak and focus less on grammar” but the ugly truth is, grammar is just as important for speaking as it is for writing. That’s why we decided to give you some “bytes” of it through this series.
What are auxiliary verbs?
They’re needed to form sentences in different tenses. The main auxiliary verbs are the verb to be, to do and to have.
How do they work?
Depending on which tense you are trying to create they can take different forms.
- To do: This auxiliary verb is necessary to: ask questions in the present and past simple tenses (all of its forms: do/does/did).
Ex: Katherine works at PWC ->Does Katherine work at PWC?
Jillian lived in London -> Did Jillian live in London?
Negative sentences -> I don’t like that movie.
- To be: it is necessary to create present and past continuous sentences as well as in the passive forms.
Ex: Computers are made by American companies based in Asia.
Newspapers are disappearing at an alarming rate.
His happiness was envied by many.
- To have: it is necessary to create present and past perfect tenses (all of its forms have/has/had).
Ex: Karol and Jan have worked at Eklektika for 10 years -> Have they worked at Eklektika for 10 years?
Note: Some tenses (like present perfect continuous) need more than one auxiliary!
Ex: They have been working for 2 hours.
- To contract or not to contract?
Contractions are a very fundamental part of spoken English. It is possible to contract the auxiliaries to make communication flow faster.
I’m reading that book-> instead of->I am reading that book
However, for more formal writing it is not encouraged to use contractions.
The shipment is arriving tomorrow->instead of->The shipment’s arriving tomorrow
|I don’t like it|
You don’t enjoy it
He doesn’t work here
She doesn’t speak English
It doesn’t work
They don’t understand
You don’t look well
We don’t travel often
You’re very tall
|(am has no negative contraction)|
You aren’t nice-> You’re not nice
He isn’t tall->He’s not tall
She isn’t lovely->She’s not lovely
It isn’t late-> It’s not late
They aren’t trying-> They’re not trying
You aren’t very tall-> You’re not very tall
We aren’t Polish-> We’re not Polish
|I’ve seen it|
You’ve worked hard
He’s lived there
She’s been to Italy
It’s been hard
They’ve been nice
You’ve been loud
We’ve written a book
|I haven’t seen it|
You haven’t worked hard
He hasn’t lived here
She hasn’t been to Italy
It hasn’t been hard
They haven’t been nice
You haven’t been loud
We haven’t written a book
|I’d worked there|
You’d lived here
He’d been at work
It’d been tough
They’d loved it
You’d been nice
We’d gone out
|I hadn’t worked there|
You hadn’t lived here
He hadn’t been at work
She hadn’t travelled
It hadn’t been tough
They hadn’t loved it
You hadn’t been nice
We hadn’t gone out
Note 1: to have is only contracted when is being used as an auxiliary, when used as the verb (to have = possess) there is not contraction.
I have two books = I haven’t two books -> I don’t have two books
Note 2: The contraction “’d” can also mean “would”, the way to find out which is the meaning is to look at the following word.
Example: I’d love it = I would love it -> the verb is in infinitive form after would.
I’d loved it= I had loved it -> the verb is in past participle form after had.
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