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Action Verbs and Linking Verbs Help (page 2)

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Updated on Sep 8, 2011

Helping Verbs

Helping verbs enhance the main verb's meaning by providing us with more information about its tense.

A main verb may have as many as three helping verbs in front of it in a sentence.

Examples:

Martin walked quickly to the bus stop to avoid being late.

Martin had walked quickly to the bus stop to avoid being late.

Martin must have walked quickly to the bus stop to avoid being late.

A main verb with helping verbs is called a verb phrase. It is important to remember that a helping verb need not be right next to the main verb in the sentence. For instance, we could rewrite the last sentence so that the adverb quickly separates the helping verbs must and have from the main verb walked.

Example:

Martin must have quickly walked to the bus stop to avoid being late.

If you were asked to identify the verb phrase, you would eliminate the adverb quickly and give must have walked as the answer.

The range of a verb phrase is defined as both "the main verb plus its auxiliaries," as previously explained, and "the main verb plus its auxiliaries, its complements, and other modifiers." So some instructors might expect you to identify the previous verb phrase as must have walked quickly to the bus stop.

Exercises for this concept can be found at Action Verbs and Linking Verbs Practice

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