ASL University ►


ASL: auxiliary verbs



To understand what an "auxiliary" verb is, it helps to first make sure you understand the meaning of the word "auxiliary." 

Auxiliary means: Providing supplementary or additional help and support.

Thus, an auxiliary verb is a verb used to help or support a main verb.

There are different types of auxiliary verbs that are divided up into the types of functions or grammatical meaning that they add to clauses or sentences. For example:

Aspect: The way or manner in which the verb was done. [How the action was done.]

Diathesis: Active voice or passive voice. [Is your subject the doer or the receiver of the action? Example: "The ball hit the boy" vs "The boy was hit by the ball."]

Emphasis: Is the verb being used to indicate special importance, value, or prominence? [Example: WILL when used to emphasize that someone will for sure do something.]

Modality:  The degree to which something is likely, possible, or necessary. [Example: CAN when used to indicate possibility, MUST which is used to indicate necessity, and WILL when used to indicate that an action is a certainty.]

Tense: Indicating when the action or event happens. [Example: The sign PAST when used to mean "was." For example: "PRO.1 PAST PLAN GO BUT CHANGE MIND. = "I was going to go but I changed my mind."]

If you use the FUTURE sign with a double arc to mean "someday" as in "Someday I'll go to go college" that is using the sign as an "auxiliary tense" verb.

If you use the sign FUTURE at the end of a sentence with a strong single movement it is functioning as a modal auxiliary verb or emphasis auxiliary verb expressing (and emphasizing) that it is a "very strong likelihood" that you will be going to college. For example: "FUTURE-[someday] I GO COLLEGE, I WILL!"   Thus we see the sign FUTURE being used two different ways. At the beginning of the sentence it is being used as a "tense" auxiliary verb. At the end of the sentence it is being used as a modal or emphasis auxiliary verb.


Also see: Modal Verbs in ASL


You can learn American Sign Language (ASL) online at American Sign Language University
ASL resources by Lifeprint.com    Dr. William Vicars


Dr. Bill's new iPhone "Fingerspelling Practice" app is now available!   GET IT HERE!  


NEW!  Online "ASL Training Center!"  (Premium Subscription Version of ASLU)  ** CHECK IT OUT **


Also available: "ASLUniversity.com" (a mirror of Lifeprint.com less traffic, fast access)  ** VISIT NOW **

Want to help support Lifeprint / ASLU?  It's easy!     

back.gif (1674 bytes)