The 23 verbs below are traditionally called ‘helping verbs,’ but linguist Geoffrey Pullum says we should stay away from the helping verb definition, so we will.
That said, please know that the words “helping verbs” and “auxiliary verbs” mean the same thing.
“Helping verbs” = “Auxiliary verbs”
“Auxiliary verbs” = “Helping verbs”
All other verbs are called lexical verbs.
THE AUXILIARY VERBS:
CGEL says that need and dare can be used as either auxiliary or lexical verbs.
The two most important differences between auxiliary and lexical verbs occur in:
|Auxiliary v. Lexical verbs in questions|
|Auxiliary verbs||Lexical verbs|
|She is walking home.||She walks home.|
|Is she walking home?||Walks she home?||WRONG|
|Subject & auxiliary switch places||Subject & lexical verb can’t change places|
|Does she walk home?
Must add auxiliary verb “does” in front of subject
|Auxiliary v. Lexical verbs in ‘not’ statements
|Auxiliary verb: has
“Not” is added after the
|Lexical verb: brings
“Not” can’t be added after the
|Harry has brought his owl.||Harry brings his owl.|
|Harry has not brought his owl.||Harry brings not his owl.||WRONG|
|Harry does not bring his owl.
(must add “does” & place “not”
between “does” and the lexical verb)
|Auxiliary verbs can form a contraction with ‘not’
Lexical verbs cannot form a contraction with ‘not’
|Lexical verbs can’t form a contraction with ‘not’|
Here is Huddleston and Pullum’s definition of the auxiliary verb: