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Verbs with Helpers

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1. Recent Past (Present Perfect)

A conjugation of Have + [VERB+ed] describes an action that began in the past and continues into the present or that occurred in the recent past.


  • The child has finished the candy.
  • I have gone to college for one year.
  • He has worked hard all day.

2. Distant Past (Past Perfect)

Had + [VERB+ed] describes actions that began and ended in the past.


  • Mike had promised to repair Joe's bike.
  • I had eaten dinner before he came.

3. Present Continuous Action (Present Progressive)

Is + [VERB+ing] shows action that is in progress now or is going to happen in the future.


  • I am taking Spanish this semester.
  • He is getting ready for the party this evening.
  • Next week they are going to Florida.

4. Past Continuous Action (Past Progressive)

Was + [VERB+ing] shows action that was in progress at a certain time in the past.


  • Yesterday I was working in the garden.
  • He was smoking a pack a day before he quit.
  • The dogs were barking all night.

5. Other helping verbs (Modals)

[HELPER] + [VERB], such as CAN, WILL, SHALL, MAY, COULD, WOULD, SHOULD, MIGHT, MUST keep the same form. They do not change to agree with the subject.


I |

you |

he | can do that assignment easily.

we |

There are also modal phrases (some of which don't change form), such as:

  • COULD HAVE + Verb
  • WOULD HAVE + Verb
  • MUST HAVE + Verb

(Not could "of" or would "of")


  • I could have won the prize if I had entered the contest.
  • He must have bought the ticket already.


  • USED TO + Verb
  • HAVE TO + Verb
  • HAVE GOT TO + Verb
  • BE ABLE TO + Verb
  • OUGHT TO + Verb


  • I used to think that all dogs have fleas.
  • I am supposed to come back next week.