Missing Auxiliaries - Common Errors in English

Not every language uses auxiliary verbs like English. Most Indo-European languages make use of auxiliary verbs, although the characteristics and functions of auxiliary verbs differ from language to language. Other languages replace auxiliary verbs with suffixes added onto the ends of verbs. Missing auxiliaries is therefore a common mistake for non-native English speakers, since many languages either omit auxiliary verbs entirely, or have different usage characteristics.

Rules and Functions of Auxiliary Verbs

 

According to The Chicago Manual of Style 15th ed. rev. (University of Chicago Press, 2003), an auxiliary verb is “a highly irregular verb that is used with other verbs to form voice, tense, and mood.” These verbs are sometimes called “helper verbs”, because of their role in adding meaning to the main verb of a sentence.

Complete list of English auxiliary verbs: (including conjugated forms)

 

am, is, are, shall, should, be, being, been, was, were, will, would, has, have, had, do, does, did, can, could, may, might, must, ought

In English, auxiliary verbs have a few grammatical functions:

Depending on the context, some auxiliaries can function alone as the only verb in a sentence; others will not be found without a main verb. These are known as modal verbs, and there are 10 of them: can, could, may, might, ought, shall, should, will, would, and must. Modal verbs never appear alone; they always accompany a main verb (i.e. I can play the piano; Allice might change her shoes.)

Fixing Missing Auxiliaries with WhiteSmoke

Following, I give some common examples of missing auxiliaries, and WhiteSmoke's correction of them. Note how in some instances, WhiteSmoke may suggest more than one suggestion (due to sentence structure, or difficulties in machine detection of text), but the first suggestion (closest to the original text) is in these cases the most likely correction.

Missing Auxiliary #1: "He living in Alaska now."

Whitesmoke’s Suggestion:

Missing Auxiliary

Whitesmoke’s Explanation:
“For this sentence to be correct, be/am/is/are is required.” (All of these suggestions are auxiliary verbs, meaning Whitesmoke correctly diagnosed this grammar error.)

Missing Auxiliary #2: "I would fallen if you didn’t warn me."

 

Whitesmoke’s Suggestion:

 

Missing Auxiliary 2

 

Whitesmoke’s Explanation: “For this sentence to be correct, be/am/is/are is required.” (All of these suggestions are auxiliary verbs, meaning Whitesmoke correctly diagnosed this grammar error.)

Missing Auxiliary #3: "I will awake at seven in the morning to begin training."

 

Whitesmoke’s Suggestion:

 

Missing Auxiliary 3

 

Whitesmoke’s Explanation:
“For this sentence to be correct, be/am/is/are is required.” (All of these suggestions are auxiliary verbs, meaning Whitesmoke correctly diagnosed this grammar error.)

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