Monday, November 30, 2015

English Auxiliaries and Tenses

On Friday we introduced English auxiliary verbs and how they can alter meaning. They do this in a number of fascinating ways, but we'll only be looking at one of these today. There are several verbs that act as auxiliaries in order to alter tense in English, so we're going to take a look at a few of the most commonly used examples: be, have, and will.

Tenses are used to indicate time, just like this
famous clock in London, England.

The verb to be is used to create both the present progressive and past progressive tenses. For example, the sentences "I am doing my homework" and "I was doing my homework" both utilise conjugations of to be in order to indicate progressive tenses. In these examples, to be is used alongside the gerund of to do (doing) to indicate an ongoing action either in the past or the present.


The verb to have is used to indicate actions that are completed. For example, "I have done my homework" in the present perfect or "I had done my homework" in the past perfect. These can then be combined with to be to create perfect progressive tenses such as "I have been doing my homework" in the present perfect progressive or "I had been doing my homework" in the past perfect progressive.


As an auxiliary, will is always used to create future tenses. For example, "I will do my homework". Just like the other examples we saw, it can be combined to create other tenses such as the future perfect, as in "I will have done my homework" and the future continuous "I will be doing my homework".

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