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

 

 

βœ… The robots are stopping for their lunch break.

 

βœ… makes sense

 

βœ… 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

 

 

βœ… 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

 

 

βœ… 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

 

βœ… I am smiling.

 

βœ… He is smiling.

 

βœ… He was smiling.

 

plural

 

more than one person or thing

 

aliens

 

βœ… They are smiling.

 

βœ… They were smiling.

 

 

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helping verbs tell us the time that an action happened

 

β˜‘οΈ this is called the tense

 

 

halloween-costumes

 

 

present tense

 

βœ… The children are playing trick or treat.

 

past tense

 

βœ… 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

 

βœ… The ball is flying over the net.

 

present progressive is used for actions in progress right now

 

βœ… 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

  

 

 

βœ… He is rushing to work.

 

busy-robot

 

present progressive

 

one person or thing

 

 

βœ… 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

 

βœ… He is rushing to work.

...

βœ… He was rushing to work.

...

is changes to was

 

robots-in-the-lift

 

βœ… They are standing in the lift.

...

βœ… 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

 

βœ… Ravi is swimming.

...

βœ… Ravi was swimming.

...

present progressive

 

 

present progressive

 

children-swimming

 

βœ… They are swimming.

...

βœ… They were swimming.

...

past progressive

 

 

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how to form the present progressive

 

 

football-game

 

 

present tense be helping verb βž• an ing action verb

 

 

βœ… is βž• playing

 

βœ… am βž• playing

 

βœ… are βž• 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 βž• an ing action verb

  

βœ… was βž• playing

 

βœ… were βž• 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

 

 

βœ… 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

 

βœ… Titch is lifting the parcel up over his head.

...

βœ… The robots were delivering all their parcels.

...

βœ… 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

 

 

βœ… The pirate is not stopping till he finds the treasure.

 

 

helping verb | adverb | main verb

 

 

βœ… 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

 

 

 

βœ… 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

βœ… 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 

 

βœ… to walk

 

 base form of the verb walk 

 

βœ… walk

 

 progressive form of the verb walk 

 

βœ… walking

 

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

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