Auxiliary verb

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In linguistics, an auxiliary (also called helping verb, helper verb, auxiliary verb, or verbal auxiliary, abbreviated aux) is a verb functioning to give further semantic or syntactic information about the main or full verb following it. In English, the extra meaning provided by an auxiliary verb alters the basic meaning of the main verb to make it have one or more of the following functions: passive voice, progressive aspect, perfect aspect, modality, dummy, or emphasis.

In English, every clause has a finite verb which consists of a main verb (a non-auxiliary verb) and optionally one or more auxiliary verbs, each of which is a separate word. Examples of finite verbs include write (no auxiliary verb), have written (one auxiliary verb), and have been written (two auxiliary verbs). Many languages, including English, feature some verbs that can act either as auxiliary or as main verbs, such as be ("I am writing a letter" vs "I am a postman") and have ("I have written a letter" vs "I have a letter"). In the case of be, it is sometimes ambiguous whether it is auxiliary or not; for example, "the ice cream was melted" could mean either "something melted the ice cream" (in which case melt would be the main verb) or "the ice cream was mostly liquid" (in which case be would be the main verb).

The primary auxiliary verbs in English are to be and to have; other major ones include shall, will, may and can.[1][2]


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