As identified by traditional grammars, verbs space “action or state of being words.” within verb unit volume in English, there are four types of verbs:

Copular verbsAuxiliary verbsModal verbsMain Verbs

English Copular Verbs

The very first type that verb in the English language is the copular verb. Copular verbs space verbs that connect the grammatical topic with the grammatical subject complement. The most common copular verb in English include:


For example:

That sculpture is ugly.I felt happy.Your brothers proved stupid again.The soup tastes delicious.

You are watching: Copula vs auxiliary

Copular verbs are likewise referred to as linking verbs and copula.

English assistant Verbs

The second type of verb in the English language is the assistant verb. Assistant verbs space verbs that provide additional semantic or syntactic information around the key verb in the verb phrase. The 3 most usual auxiliary verb in English are:


For example:

Do friend eat meat?He is feeling ill.The kid has finished her vegetables.A paint was stolen from the museum.

Auxiliary verb are additionally referred to together helping verbs.

English Modal Verbs

The third type of verb in the English language is the modal verb. Modal verbs room verbs the express modality, that are neutral and defective, and also that occupy just the initial position in a verb phrase. Quasi-modal verbs, i m sorry share some but not all properties of complete modal verbs, space a subset the the English modal verb. The ripe modal verbs and also five quasi-modal verb in English are:

For example:

cancoulddarehad much better (had best)maymightmustneedought toshallshouldused towillwould

For example:

Could friend close the window?You might it is in a tiny sick.She used to walk to college every day.I would to wash my hands if ns were you.

Modal verbs consisting of quasi-modal verbs are likewise auxiliary verbs.

English key Verbs

The fourth kind of verb in the English language is the main verb. Key verbs room dynamic or stative verbs that duty as the head of the verb phrase. All various other verbs that room not auxiliary or modal verbs are main verbs in English. For example:

My cat stole mine yarn.The dog has actually eaten his dinner.Our shopping perform includes turkey, cranberries, and also peas.A great author wrote that terrible poem.

Copular verbs are likewise main verbs. Because that example:

He became a teacher last year.The pleasure has actually been every yours.This pumpkin smells funny.Your son has been turning green.

The four species of verbs that appear in verb phrases in the English language are copular verbs, assistant verbs, modal verbs, and also main verbs.

See likewise English Verbs: Copular, Intransitive, Transitive, Ditransitive, and Ambitransitive.

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Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction come the grammar that English. Cambridge: Cambridge college Press.