Connect
To Top

    Using Auxiliary Verbs as Progressives

    Using Auxiliary Verbs as Progressives

    Traditional grammars define verbs as words that “describe an action or a state.” 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 progressive is a word that expresses the progressive aspect in the English language. The auxiliary verb that can function as the progressive is the verb be, which is referred to as the progressive be. Do not confuse the progressive be with the copular be or passive be. For example, the following italicized auxiliary verbs function as progressives:

    • I am bowling a perfect game.
    • You are stealing a priceless heirloom.
    • She is drinking sweet tea.
    • He was reciting poetry on the quad.
    • We were watching our favorite show when the cable went out.
    • My puppy had been gnawing on the rawhide bone.

    Auxiliary Verb as Progressive

    Auxiliary Verb as Progressive

    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