How to Teach Helping Verbs (With Examples)

Teaching helping verbs is an important part of enhancing one’s language proficiency as these verbs play an essential role in creating meaningful and grammatically correct sentences. This guide will discuss effective techniques for teaching helping verbs that will bolster your students’ confidence in using these verbs – not only in everyday conversations, but in professional settings as well.

What are Helping Verbs?

A Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition states that helping verbs (also known as auxiliary verbs) are verbs that are used with another verb to express things such as people, numbers, mood, or tone. To put it simply, helping verbs are a type of verb that teams up with another verb to deliver information about who’s doing something, how many are doing it, how they feel, and when it’s happening.

Here’s another in-depth definition:

Helping verbs are a type of verb that assist in conveying different meanings and tenses in sentences. That’s why understanding what these verbs really do is as essential as learning how to employ them. Words like “can,” “will,” “should,” and “have” work in conjunction with main verbs to show possibilities, obligations, time, and other important aspects of language. Mastery with this type of verb is crucial for learners. It enables them to craft clear and correct sentences, particularly in contexts that demand clarity, or simply when they just want to be understood correctly.

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Who can Benefit in Learning Helping Verbs?

Helping verbs are small grammatical elements that although are often overlooked, hold the key to unlocking clearer communication and enhance the language skills of a learner. Everybody can benefit from mastering this type of verb including:

Young Learners: Learning helping verbs at an early age will help establish a strong foundation for language skills, assisting them in forming correct sentences. It will also enable children to express themselves clearly, resulting in reduced frustration in communication.

ESL/EFL Students: Understanding and learning how to correctly use this type of verb is crucial for ESL/EFL students to be fluent in English. Mastery would not only help them feel more confident in both spoken and written communication, it will also help them excel in English exams and coursework.

Adult Learners: Adult learners can cultivate their communication skills more effectively in a professional setting, leading them to career advancement. All thanks to the mastery of helping verbs. For adults that are planning on relocating to English-speaking countries, mastery of helping verbs are essential for cultural integration as well as job opportunities.

Special Education Students: SPED students learning how to properly use helping verbs will make it easier for them to express their thoughts and needs. Aside from that, studying helping verbs in a high level will help boost their confidence in mingling with others.

Language Enthusiasts: Language Enthusiasts trying to find a deeper understanding of the English grammar and structure will find helping verbs an appealing aspect of the language. In addition to that, it will help enrich their writing skills that would enable them to make more captivating texts.

Speech Therapy Clients: Helping verbs can help achieve clearer and more articulate speech when it comes to speech therapy clients. Apart from that, understanding the usage of these verbs would help them express their thoughts and needs completely during therapy sessions.

A wide range of advantages comes with learning helping verbs, from establishing a strong foundation for young learners to the improvement of communication skills for adults and students with special needs. Taking the time understanding the use of helping verbs is a worthwhile investment in language proficiency and effective communication, whether you use it it school, at work, or just for professional growth.

Teaching Helping Verbs

Teaching helping verbs can be tricky and doing so can also be confusing for students. To make sure that the concept of helping verbs is understood by students, let’s start by knowing the most common linking verbs in the English language.

Common helping verbs in the English language
has are being
have was have
can does be
do shall been
could might were
had will will
must should ought to
am would
is did

There are a lot of helping verbs in the English language that are often overlooked but are used everyday. Some of these helping verbs are also linking verbs (am, is, are, was, being, be, and been) if they are the focus verbs being used in a sentence. It’s not necessary for a student to memorize all of these because they will be able to recognize helping verbs in a sentence once they understand how it works.

So, now we are going to look for helping verbs in simple sentences. Here are the steps we need to follow:

  1. Identify the subject.
  2. Identify the main verb. (Whether it’s an action verb or linking verb)
  3. Identify the words between the subject and the main verb.

Let’s use this sentence as an example: Eric should have bought the all meat pizza.

teaching helping verbs

Following the steps outlined, we need to identify the subject first which is “Eric.”

teaching helping verbs

Next, we need to identify the main verb, whether it’s an action or linking. In this sentence, the word “bought” shows action so “bought” is the verb in this sentence.

teaching helping verbs

Finally, we need to identify the words between the subject and the main verb. Between the subject (Eric) and the verb (bought) are the words “should have”. “Should have” is our helping verb!

To fully grasp the concept of helping verbs, it’s important to apply this knowledge on exercises that you can find below. Doing so will bolster a student’s understanding on how helping verbs work.

Helping Verbs Exercises

Here’s some exercises that will help supplement teaching helping verbs to students.

Multiple choice exercise:

Instructions: Choose the appropriate helping verb from the options given to complete each sentence.
1. She _____ go to the store after work. 6. The cake ______ already been eaten by the time I arrived.
a) is a) are
b) are b) had
c) will c) will
2. They _______ been studying for hours. 7. They _____ go to the beach this summer.
a) have a) have
b) am b) was
c) be c) will
3. I _____ never been to Europe before. 8. She _____ just finished her homework.
a) was a) do
b) have b) has
c) do c) were
4. He _____ going to the concert tomorrow night. 9. He _______ been reading that book for a while.
a) is a) has
b) have b) is
c) was c) did
5. We _______ play basketball every weekend. 10. I _____ not going to the party tonight.
a) does a) does
b) will b) am
c) are c) will
Answer key:
1. c) will 6. b) had
2. a) have 7. c) will
3. b) have 8. b) has
4. a) is 9. a) has
5. b) will 10. b) am

Fill in the blanks exercise:

Instructions: Fill in the blanks with the correct helping verbs found in the box.
Helping Verbs:
am had
is being
are been
was have
were

be

has

 

Sentences:
1.) She __________ going to the store after work. 6.) The cake __________ already been eaten by the time I arrived.
2.) They __________ playing basketball last weekend. 7.) They __________ going to the beach this summer.
3.) I __________ never been to Europe before. 8.) She ______ just finished her homework.
4.) He __________ going to the concert tomorrow night. 9.) He __________ been reading that book for a while.
5.) We __________ playing basketball every weekend. 10.) I __________ not going to the party tonight.
Note: Not all helping verbs found in the box fit the sentences provided.
Answer Key:
1.) She is going to the store after work. 6.) The cake had already been eaten by the time I arrived.
2.) They were playing basketball last weekend. 7.) They are going to the beach this summer.
3.) I have never been to Europe before. 8.) She has just finished her homework.
4.) He is going to the concert tomorrow night. 9.) He has been reading that book for a while.
5.) We are playing basketball every weekend. 10.) I am not going to the party tonight.

 

Final Thoughts on Teaching Helping Verbs to Your Students

Thank you for exploring this resource on teaching helping verbs to your students. Introducing lessons on helping verbs is essential in English language education, as it equips students with fundamental tools for constructing meaningful and grammatically correct sentences. Learning how to use helping verbs like ‘am’, ‘is’, ‘have’, and ‘will’ allows students to form complex verb tenses and structures. This knowledge not only enhances their understanding of sentence composition but also adds depth and accuracy to their communication, particularly in scenarios that require precise expression. Mastery of helping verbs empowers students to articulate their thoughts and intentions more clearly and confidently.

Utilizing resources like EnglishLearningByPro, which offers accessible and flexible materials, enables teachers to customize their teaching strategies to suit the varied needs of their students. The ultimate aim is to enable students to confidently utilize helping verbs, thereby enhancing their communication skills in both spoken and written English.

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John Bart
Author: John Bart

I am the co-owner of englishlearningbypro.com, a community built specifically for English teachers around the world trying to make a living teaching English. I have lived in Brazil for four years and had previously taught private English classes for three years. I am passionate about helping others, and making English teaching and learning easier.

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