Idź do treci
Grammar Bytes 1.0: Auxiliary verbs

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.

Auxiliary verbs

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


 Positive ContractionNegative Contraction



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

To be

I’m bored
You’re nice

He’s tall

She’s lovely

It’s late

They’re trying

You’re very tall

We’re Polish

(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

To have


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

To have


I’d worked there
You’d lived here

He’d been at work

She’d travelled

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.