Non-Modal Auxiliary Verbs

Non-Modal Auxiliary Verbs: Forms, Uses and Examples

Hello, a lot of people are not so familiar with the non-modal auxiliary verbs, that is why this post presents a detailed discussion on Non-Modal Auxiliary Verbs: Forms and Uses. Non-modal auxiliary verbs are a vital part of the divisions of Types of Verbs in English. The three (3) Non-Modal Auxiliary Verbs are identified and discussed with copious examples and their various uses.

The Non-modal auxiliary verbs

These are three (3) in number:

  • Be

  • Do

  • Have

Forms of the ‘Be’ Verb

The Be-Verb has eight forms:

  • Be: The answer might be  wrong.
  • Is: The answer is correct.
  • Am: I am the architect.
  • Are: You are the culprit.
  • Was: He was the man who took the money.
  • Were: They were unable to attend the ceremony.
  • Being: The thieves were being tailed by the police.
  • Been: The accused has been arraigned.

Uses of the verb ‘to be’, ‘to do’ and ‘to have’

  1. We use the verb ‘to be’ as an auxiliary verb with the ‘ing’ form of the main verb in forming the continuous present tense. E. g.
  • They are coming home today.
  • We were planning to travel but we changed our minds.
  • He is farming for a living now.
  1. We use the verb ‘to be’ as an auxiliary verb with the past participle of the main verb to form the passive voice. For example:
  • Their hands were covered in blood.
  • The bags are produced  in Lagos.
  1. The verb ‘to be’ is used as an auxiliary verb along with the main verb to form negative sentences e. g.
  • He is not taking the offer.
  • They are not sleeping over.
  • The children are complaining about the food.
  1. The verb ‘to have’ is used as an auxiliary verb along the past participle of the main verb to form the perfective. E. g.
  • She wished she had gone earlier.
  • Others have filled the vacant post.
  • It has not rained in two months.




More Uses of the verb ‘to be’, ‘to do’ and ‘to have’

  1. We also use the verb ‘to do’ as an auxiliary verb along with the main verb to form negatives sentences. E. g.
  • She does not believe him.
  • It does not pay to be lazy.
  • He does not like drinking cold water.
  1. We use the verb ‘to do’ as an auxiliary verb along with the main verb to form questions. E. g.
  • Does anyone know the wedding date?
  • Did he care about their welfare?
  • Do they know the police were here?
  • The candidates wrote the examination. Didn’t they?
  • He knows the answer. Doesn’t he?
  1. We use the verb ‘to do’ as an auxiliary verb along with the main verb to form sentences in which we emphasise the lexical/main verb. E. g.
  • Someone does know the wedding date.
  • He did care about their welfare.
  • They do know the police were here.
  • I do like to stress that punctuality is compulsory.
  • I do really like to help.
  • You do need to be careful.
  • She does like soap operas.
  • I did sample their opinions.

8. In imperative sentences, do can also come before imperative verbs to show their importance. For example:

  • Do get here by 7 pm.
  • Do make sure you call your mother.

Forms of the Verb ‘Do’

The verb Do has its different forms which we can inflect in the following ways:

  • Do: You do know the fact.
  • Does: Whatever you say does matter.
  • Did: He did a good job.
  • Doing: What are you doing over there?
  • Done: The deed is done already.

With the addition of the negation, the verb Do can exist also as:

  • Don’t: They don’t know the costs of the items.
  • Doesn’t: He doesn’t like eating in the morning.
  • Didn’t: He didn’t see him leave the house.

The above forms exist in the negative or contracted forms; when they are not contracted, we have these forms:

  • Do not: They do not know the costs of the items.
  • Does not: He does not like eating in the morning.
  • Did not: He did not see him leave the house.




The first person personal pronoun (singular and plural – I/We), the second person personal pronoun (singular and plural – You/You) and the third person personal pronoun (plural only – They) all go with the verb do while the third person personal pronoun (singular only – He/She/It) goes with does. (See Concord in English). Doing and Done has to do with the progressive and perfective aspects respectively. Did has to do with the past tense form of do. We can also use the various forms of the verb do in asking a polar question (a yes/no question). See the different types of question in the post Types of Sentences According to Function.

Forms of the Verb ‘Have’

The verb ‘have’ exists in the following forms:

  • Have: They have something to offer
  • Has: She has a new car.
  • Had: He had left before the police arrived.

With the addition of the negation, the verb Have can exist also as:

  • Haven’t: They haven’t got anything to offer.
  • Hasn’t: He hasn’t done anything significant.
  • Hadn’t: They hadn’t seen each other since they separated.

Functions of the Verb ‘Have’

As the Main Verb

This indicates possession, individual characteristics or relationships. For example:

  • She has a car.
  • The car has a refrigerator.
  • They have a factory.
  • I have some equipment.
  • We have some cousins in Chicago.
  • The couples have five children.
  • She has a pointed nose.
  • The child has cross-eyes.
  • He has anger problems.
  • He has a speech defect.

The verb ‘got’ can also be used with ‘have’ to show possession, individual characteristics or relationships. For instance:

  • She has got a car.
  • The car has got a refrigerator.
  • They have got a factory.
  • I have got some equipment.
  • We have got some cousins in Chicago.
  • The couples have got five children.
  • She has got a pointed nose.
  • The child has got cross-eyes.
  • He has got anger problems.
  • He has got a speech defect.




As an Auxiliary Verb

  • I have submitted the assignment.
  • They have never been to Africa.
  • We have won the game.
  • You have been awarded a scholarship.
  • She has lost her wallet.
  • He has been a student for five years.
  • It has been a wonderful outing.

Note that ‘have’ goes with the first person (singular and plural – I/We), second person (singular and plural – You) and third person plural – They) while ‘has’ goes with the third person singular – He/She/It).

Aspectual Functions

The verb ‘have’ also performs aspectual functions, especially when used with the main verb, to show whether an action has been completed or is still in the process of being completed. See these examples:

  • I have completed my education.
  • The clock has stopped working.
  • They have been waiting for a child a long time.
  • The thief has been terrorising the inhabitants since last week.
  • The plane had already taken off before we arrived at the airport.
  • He had been travelling around the world for two years before he was retired.

Read more about Tense, Voice and Aspect.

On a Final Note

You would have noticed that the other two non-modal auxiliaries, do and be exist in the progressive or gerundive forms but the case of have is peculiar. Some people believe that have can exist in the progressive form as a verb but this is not grammatical. The simple reason is that have belongs to the category of verbs referred to as Stative or State verbs. These are verbs that do not admit the progressive forms. Examples of such verbs include: have, see, love, like, believe, resemble, etc. See (Types of Verbs). Such verbs express a state: what is and what is not! There is no middle ground. See these examples, where the asterisked sentences are ungrammatical:

  • *I am having a shower.
  • I have a shower.
  • *She is having a car.
  • She has a car.
  • *I am hearing you
  • I can hear you
  • *He is liking his new job.
  • He likes his new job.
  • *I am believing God
  • I believe God.

See the post: Commonly Used Wrong Words

However, such verbs can accommodate the progressive forms only when they exist as verbal nouns. For instance:

  • Seeing is believing.
  • Having a shower is refreshing.
  • Having food and clothing, we should be contented.
  • Believing God for grace is commendable.
  • Having a platform that teaches English is a welcome development.

Do not forget to share this post; it is just a button away. You can also check other grammar-related posts on this site. I await your questions and comment. Thank you for reading Akademia!

You should also endeavour to read more about modal auxiliary verbs

One comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *