Auxiliaries are verbs that do not carry meaning on their own. They stand together with main verbs and give information about tense, simple or progressive, as well as on active or passive voice. To learn more, go to main verbs!
The verbs "to be, to do" and "to have" can be both auxiliaries and main verbs. If they stand together with another main verb, they function as auxiliaries.


Hilfsverben sind Verben die keine eigene Bedeutung haben. Sie stehen immer zusammen mit Vollverben und geben uns Informationen über Zeit, Modus oder Aktiv und Passiv. Um mehr zu erfahren, gehe zu Vollverben!
Die Verben "to be, to do" und "to have" können sowohl als Hilfsverben als auch als Vollverben fungieren. Wenn sie mit einem anderen Vollverb zusammen stehen, dienen sie als Hilfsverben.
  • I have a car. (Vollverb)
  • I have left my jacket in the house. (Hilfsverb)

To Be

The auxiliary "to be" can occur in the following constructions:
form of "to be" + progressive The children are dancing.

To Be

Das Hilfsverb "to be" kann in folgenden Konstruktionen vorkommen:
Form von "to be" + Progressive The children are dancing.
  • The man is reading a book.
  • The phone was ringing.
form of "to be" + passive This car was made in Germany.
Form von "to be" + Passiv This car was made in Germany.
  • This story was told to me by my grandfather.
  • This book is written in English.

To Have

The auxiliary "to have" can be used as follows:
form of "to have" + present perfect or past perfect he has arrived, he had arrived

To Have

Das Hilfsverb "to have" kann wie folgt benutzt werden:
Form von "to have" + Present Perfect oder Past Perfect he has arrived, he had arrived
  • I have made dinner. (present perfect)
  • He had known that before. (past perfect)

To Do

You need the auxiliary "to do" to ask or negate questions in simple present and simple past:

To Do

Das Hilfsverb "to do" brauchst du, um Fragen im Simple Present und Simple Past zu stellen oder zu verneinen:
  • Do you like ice cream? Yes, I do.
  • Do you have a watch? No, I do not/don't.
  • Did you enjoy the film? Yes, I did.
  • Did you go to your lessons this morning? No, I did not/didn't.
The auxiliary "to do" can be very useful if you want to answer a question shortly: If someone asks you a Yes-No-Question, you can simply reply "Yes, I do" or "No, I don't". This is called a Short Answer.
You also need "to do" for the negated imperative:
Don't run so fast!
Be careful with using contracted forms (short forms) like "I'm" or "didn't" in written texts. In spoken language you use them all the time, but in a written text, they might look informal!
Das Hilfsverb "to do" kann sehr nützlich sein, wenn du eine Frage knapp beantworten möchtest: Wenn dir jemand eine Ja-Nein-Frage stellt, kannst du einfach "Yes, I do" oder "No, I don't" antworten. Das nennt man Short Answer.
Außerdem brauchst du "to do" für den verneinten Imperativ:
Don't run so fast!
Sei vorsichtig mit der Benutzung von Kurzformen wie "I'm" oder "didn't" in schriftlichen Texten. In gesprochener Sprache benutzt man sie die ganze Zeit, aber in einem schriftlichen Text könnten sie eventuell nicht formell genug aussehen!
In the following exercises you should take a look at all the sentences and decide whether the verbs "to have", "to do" and "to be" are used as a main verb or an auxiliary.
In den nachfolgenden Übungen sollst du dir alle Sätze ansehen und entscheiden, ob die Verben "to have", "to do" und "to be" als Vollverben oder als Hilfsverben benutzt werden.
  • I am not able to understand Spanish.
  • The university was founded in 1789.
  • I am so tired right now.
  • Ralph was sitting in his room.
  • Janine is really smart.
  • He is from France.
  • The children always do the dishes.
  • I always do my homework.
  • Maria does a lot of sport.
  • Does anyone know how to get to Brooklyn?
  • Do you like the pie?
  • I don't know where the keys are.
  • I have a new car.
  • Lea has forgotten to bring her book.
  • I have left my jacket at home.
  • The Smiths have a very nice house.
  • Who has written that?
  • Peter has so many obligations at the moment.

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