By Flor G. A. M. Aarts, Herman Chr. Wekker (auth.)
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Additional resources for A Contrastive Grammar of English and Dutch: Contrastieve grammatica Engels / Nederlands
Classes of verbs English verbs can be divided into two classes: auxiliary verbs (or helping verbs) and lexical verbs (or main verbs). Auxiliaries differ from lexical verbs in several respects. Firstly, in the structure of the verb phrase lexical verbs always come last; auxiliaries precede lexical verbs in a fixed order: modal auxiliary have - be. Consider: Jack will Jack will be Jack will have Jack will have been meet meeting met met the girls the girls the girls by the girls Secondly, auxiliaries cannot normally stand on their own, but must be followed by a lexical verb.
Examples: He promised to ring a doctor at once and he did (so) The policeman asked them to walk on but they refused to do so We begged them to save our lives and they did (so) Suddenly he ran out of the room but I don't know why he did (so) Note that predicates containing a verb of bodily sensation can only be replaced by do, not by do so. : She felt very sick - I know she did *1 know she did so So is also often omitted after do when the replaced predicate contains a verb of inert perception or cognition, as in: I smell coffee I wish you would go -I do, too - I know you do So do, so ...
So do I He followed me in his car and he will do it again The Units of Grammatical Description 33 Lexical verbs Since lexical verbs play the most important role in the verb phrase, they are often called 'main verbs' or 'verbs of full meaning'. Auxiliaries, on the other hand, are often referred to as 'helping verbs'; their role is not to express the central notion of the verb phrase, but to signal meanings such as futurity (shall! will), possibility (may), ability (can), aspect (be + -ing participle) or voice (be + -ed participle).