Learn about helping verbs in sentences. What they are, what they do and how they are used.

 

The Progressive Tense

 

 

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action verbs that end in ing

 

will always need to be used with a helping verb

 

 

robot-painting

 

 

✅ The robots are stopping for their lunch break.

 

✅ makes sense

 

✅ The robots stopping for their lunch break.

 

❌ does not make sense

 

 

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a helping verb + an action verb

 always act as one verb

 

football-game

 

 

The ball was + rolling down the hill.

 

acts as one verb

 

subject | helping verb + action verb

 

 

 

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these are the helping verbs that we use the most

  

am | is | are | was | were

 

 these helping verbs are called the be helping verbs

 

 

roller-coster

 

 

The children were screaming on the ride.

  

subject | helping verb | action verb

 

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the be helping verb we need to use will depend on

 how many we are talking about

 

 

singular

 

one person or thing

 

purple-alien

 

✅ I am smiling.

 

✅ He is smiling.

 

✅ He was smiling.

 

plural

 

more than one person or thing

 

aliens

 

✅ They are smiling.

 

✅ They were smiling.

 

 

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helping verbs tell us the time that an action happened

 

☑️ this is called the tense

 

 

halloween-costumes

 

 

present tense

 

✅ The children are playing trick or treat.

 

past tense

 

✅ The children were playing trick or treat.

 

 

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be helping verbs + an ing action verb

 

form a tense called the progressive tense

 

 

children-on-the-beach

 

✅ The ball is flying over the net.

 

present progressive is used for actions in progress right now

 

✅ The ball was flying over the net.

 

past progressive is used for actions that were progress in the past

 

 

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the present progressive is formed with

a present tense be helping verb am, is or are

 

+ an action verb ending in ing

  

 

 

✅ He is rushing to work.

 

busy-robot

 

present progressive

 

one person or thing

 

 

✅ They are standing in the lift.

 

robots-in-the-lift

 

present progressive

 

more than one person or thing

 

 

 

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to change to the past progressive

 

 only the helping verb needs to change

  

 

busy-robot

 

✅ He is rushing to work.

...

✅ He was rushing to work.

...

is changes to was

 

robots-in-the-lift

 

✅ They are standing in the lift.

...

✅ They were standing in the lift.

...

are changes to were

 

 

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to change the tense from present progressive to past progressive

 

only the helping verb needs to change

 

  

 

present progressive

 

children-swimming

 

✅ Ravi is swimming.

...

✅ Ravi was swimming.

...

present progressive

 

 

present progressive

 

children-swimming

 

✅ They are swimming.

...

✅ They were swimming.

...

past progressive

 

 

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how to form the present progressive

 

 

football-game

 

 

present tense be helping verb an ing action verb

 

 

is playing

 

am playing

 

are playing

 

 

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present progressive

 

 football-game

 

 

is playing am playing | are playing

 

one person | more than one person

 

 

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how to form the past progressive

 

  

football-game

 

past tense be helping verb ➕ an ing action verb

  

was playing

 

were playing

 

 

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past progressive

 

football-game

 

 

was playing | were playing

 

 one person | more than one person

 

 

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there is also a future progressive tense

 

 

the future progressive is used to show

actions that will be in progress in the future

 

 

video-game

 

 

✅ They will be playing video games next.

 

 

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when you join a helping verb to a main verb

 

you create a verb phrase

 

 

robot-lifting

 

helping verb | main verb

 

✅ Titch is lifting the parcel up over his head.

...

✅ The robots were delivering all their parcels.

...

✅ The robots will be finishing their deliveries early.

 

verb phrase

 

 

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we often use the present progressive tense with a contracted form

 

long form | contracted form

 

I am watching | I’m watching

 

she is/he is/it is watching | she’s/he’s/it’s watching

 

we are watching | we’re watching

 

you are watching | you’re watching

 

they are | they’re watching

 

 

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a helping verb is always used

 

immediately in front of the main verb

 

 

digging a hole

 

but there are a few exceptions such as negative sentences

 

 

✅ The pirate is not stopping till he finds the treasure.

 

 

helping verb | adverb | main verb

 

 

✅ The pirate isn’t stopping till he finds the treasure.

 

 

adverbs between a helping and a main verb are not part of a verb phrase

 

 

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in sentences with an action verb + a helping verb

 

 the helping verb and the subject have to agree

 

 

 

✅ The pirate is looking at the map.

 

pirate-reading-map

 

❌ The pirate are looking at the map.

 

❌ The aliens was staring at the astronaut.

 

astronaut-with-aliens

✅ The aliens were staring at the astronaut.

 

 

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the progressive tense always

uses an ing action verb

 

this is how ing action verbs are formed

 

children-in-the-woods

 

 infinitive form of the verb walk 

 

✅ to walk

 

 base form of the verb walk 

 

✅ walk

 

 progressive form of the verb walk 

 

✅ walking

 

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Now take the Progressive Tense Quiz to find out what you have learned...

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