Helping Verbs

We know that every predicate contains a verb. Sometimes, the verb is more than one word in the sentence. The main verb may have one or more helping verbs. The main verb shows the action; the helping verbs do not show action, but they help to form the verb tense.

You might have wondered about the origin of teddy bears.

In the sentence above, "wondered" is the main verb, and "might" and "have" help the main verb. "Might have wondered" is the entire verb phrase.

Memorize these common helping verbs:

is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been,
has, have, had, may, might, must,
can, could, do, does, did,
shall, will, should, would


Write the entire verb phrase and underline each verb that "helps" in these sentences.

  1. Emma should have been watching the geyser, Old Faithful.
  2. She might have seen its performance.
  3. Instead, she has been shopping for postcards.
  4. Eric will have witnessed several of the geyser's performances before sundown.
  5. Benito Juarez should be remembered for opposing Santa Anna.
  6. Juarez could have behaved like Santa Anna.
  7. Instead, Juarez must have acted honestly and sincerely.
  8. Unlike Santa Anna, Juarez had come from a poor family.
  9. The toy bear, or teddy bear, was invented by Margarete Steiff in Germany.
  10. Margarete Steiff had used leftover material for the bear.
  11. Many other children in the village must have wanted rag bears.
  12. Margarete's brother, Richard Steiff, may have marketed these bears in the United States.
  13. The Senate is composed of one hundred members.
  14. Two Senators will represent each state.
  15. Each state must have wanted equal representation.
  16. Could that Senator have cast his vote against women's suffrage?


  1. should have been watching ("Should," "have," and "been" help the main verb "watching.") 
  2. might have seen
  3. has been shopping
  4. will have witnessed
  5. should be remembered 
  6. could have behaved
  7. must have acted
  8. had come
  9. was invented 
  10. had used 
  11. must have wanted
  12. may have marketed
  13. is composed 
  14. will represent
  15. must have wanted
  16. Could have cast