Verbs are a fundamental part of the language. There are three main types of verbs: auxiliary, modal, and main. Auxiliary verbs help to form verb tenses and show the relationship between clauses. Modal verbs express levels of certainty or doubt about an event or state of being. Although both auxiliaries and modals have similar functions, there are some key differences between them. In this post, we will explore those differences in detail. Stay tuned!
What are Auxiliary Verbs?
Auxiliary verbs are verbs that help to express the mood or tense of another verb. In English, there are three auxiliary verbs: be, have, and do. Auxiliary verbs are also known as helping verbs. Auxiliary verbs are not conjugated, which means they do not change form depending on the subject of the sentence.
- For example, the auxiliary verb “is” remains unchanged whether the subject is “I,” “you,” “he,” “she,” or “it.” Consequently, auxiliary verbs must always be paired with a main verb in order to form a complete sentence.
- Auxiliary verbs often come before the main verb, as in the sentence “I am writing a paper.” In this example, “am” is the auxiliary verb, and “writing” is the main verb.
- However, auxiliary verbs can also come after the main verb, as in the sentence “She has finished her homework.” Here, “has” is the auxiliary verb, and “finished” is the main verb.
While Auxiliary Verbs are not always necessary for a complete sentence, they do play an important role in conveying meaning. Auxiliary Verbs can express things such as tense, aspect, modality, and voice. As a result, they are an essential part of communication.
What are Modal Verbs?
Modal verbs are a type of auxiliary verbs that are used to indicate likelihood, ability, permission, or obligation. Some common modal verbs include can, could, may, might, must, shall, should, will, and would.
- Modal verbs are typically followed by an infinitive verb (e.g., He can swim), though there are some exceptions (e.g., He ought to be more careful). Modal verbs are generally not used on their own and are considered to be “helping” or “supporting” verbs.
- For example, the sentence “He will swim” uses the modal verb will to indicate the future tense, whereas “He is swimming” uses the present progressive verb form to indicate the present tense.
- In addition to indicating tense, modal verbs can also be used to express other concepts such as ability (e.g., I can speak French), permission (e.g., You may enter the room), or obligation (e.g., Everyone must brush their teeth).
As a result, modal verbs are a versatile and important part of English grammar.
Differences between Auxiliary Verbs and Modal Verbs
Auxiliary verbs and modal verbs are often confused because they both function to modify the meaning of other verbs.
- Auxiliary verbs, also known as helping verbs, are used to create verb tenses and express mood.
- For example, the Auxiliary verb “do” is used to form the negative and interrogative online with the main verb.
- Auxiliary verbs always accompany the main verb. There are only a handful of Auxiliary verbs in English which include; be, do and have.
- On the other hand, modal verbs are used to express levels of ability, doubt, or certainty. For instance, the modal verb “can” expresses ability whereas “might” expresses doubt.
- There are approximately nine modal verbs which include; shall, should, will, would, may, might, can, could, and must.
To summarise, it is essential to understand the difference between auxiliary and modal verbs to use them correctly in sentences. Auxiliary verbs always accompany the main verb while modal verbs express levels of ability or doubt.
Modal verbs are a type of auxiliary verb. Auxiliary verbs help to form compound tenses, and modal verbs express levels of certainty or doubt about the action expressed by the main verb. There is some overlap between these two types of verbs, but there are also important distinctions. In general, auxiliary verbs are more common than modal verbs, and they are used more frequently in English language teaching materials. However, modal verbs can be very useful for adding nuance to your language use.