Connect
To Top

    Using Auxiliary Verbs as Passives

    Using Auxiliary Verbs as Passives

    Traditional grammars define verbs as words that “describe an action or a state of being.” Auxiliary verbs are a subclass of verbs that add functional or grammatical meaning to the main verb. Auxiliary verbs differ from prototypical verbs in that auxiliary verbs perform a limited set of grammatical functions.

    In grammar, a passive is a word that expresses the passive voice in the English language. The auxiliary verb that can function as the passive is the verb be, which is referred to as the passive be. Do not confuse the passive be with the copular be or the progressive be. The verb get can also function as the passive in less formal registers. For example, the following italicized auxiliary verbs function as passives:

    • The lawn is mown every Tuesday.
    • The child got served an alcoholic beverage by the clueless waiter.
    • I am driven crazy by the customers.
    • The books are shelved in the evenings.
    • Some of the articles are being proofread.
    • Will the flowers have been being watered enough?

    Auxiliary Verb as Passive

    Auxiliary Verb as Passive

    References

    Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
    Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
    Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    Kilby, David. 1984. Descriptive syntax and the English verb. Dover, New Hampshire: Croom Helm.
    Leech, Geoffrey N. 2004. Meaning and the English verb. Harlow, English: Pearson Longman.

    More in English Verbs

    • The Habitual ‘be’

      What is the habitual be? Who uses the habitual be? I began writing this post a few months ago as I...

      Heather JohnsonJune 27, 2020
    • Using Verbs and Verb Phrases as Adjunct Adverbials

      Notional grammars traditionally verbs as “words that denote actions and states of being.” A verb phrase consists of a verb plus...

      Heather JohnsonJune 15, 2019
    • Adjectives Versus Verbs: Participial Adjectives

      As I have written many times before, the line between grammatical forms is blurry at best, especially among lexical categories like...

      Heather JohnsonJune 4, 2019
    • Using Verbs and Verb Phrases as Noun Phrase Complements

      Notional grammars define verbs as “words that denote actions and states of being.” A verb phrase consists of a verb plus...

      Heather JohnsonMay 13, 2019
    • Grammatical Aspect

      Grammatical aspect is the grammaticalized expression of the temporal structure of an action or state. Temporal structure roughly relates to duration....

      Heather JohnsonJune 20, 2018