Helping Verb Games & Activities

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

As students learn more about grammar, they will come across helping (also called auxiliary verbs) with increasing frequency. This lesson provides teachers with helping verb games and activities designed for classroom use.

Helping Verb Games & Activities

Understanding how to use helping verbs is vital for a proper appreciation of English grammar. The following activities will not only introduce helping verbs to your students, but also provide them with memorable and entertaining ways to use these verbs effectively.

What are Helping Verbs and How are They Used?

Before using these activities, it's helpful to give your students a brief overview of helping verbs that includes what they are and how they are used.

Here is a list of English helping verbs.

  1. Be/am, is/are/were/been
  2. Can
  3. Could
  4. Do/does/did
  5. Have/has had
  6. May
  7. Might
  8. Must
  9. Ought to
  10. Shall
  11. Should
  12. Will
  13. Would

Helping verbs come before the main, or lexical verb, in a sentence. A helping verb and a main verb together form a verbal phrase. For example:

  • If her ankle heals, Jenny will play soccer next week.

In this sentence will is the helping verb and play is the main verb.

It's possible to have up to three helping verbs as part of a verbal phrase. For example:

  • Kelly should have been studying all week for the exam.

It's also possible for a word to come between a helping verb and a main verb. For example:

  • Tina has not been able to find the right clothes for the party.

Help Find The Helpers

This activity works best if all of your students have access to the same book. Novels, short stories, or any work of fiction is suitable. This activity can be done in class or as homework, but the results should be discussed in class.

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