Helping Verbs. Definition, Examples and Exercise

Definition: The second category of verbs is helping verbs. Also called auxiliary verbs, helping verbs help the main verb show tense or possibility.


Helping verbs + main verbs = verb phrases. The main verb is always the last verb in the phrase.

The most common helping verbs are:

  • To be: am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been

These are used in progressive tenses and passive voice verbs.

She is writing a letter.

I am listening to music.

  • to have:have, has, had

These are used in perfect tenses.

She has stolen the car already by then.

  • to do:do, does, did

These are emphatic verbs. They emphasize the main verb.

She doesn’t know anything.

  • conditionals (also called modal auxiliaries): could, should, would, can, shall, will, may, might, must

These express possibility, obligation, permission, ability, necessity, and intention.

You should go home and lie down.

I can run a mile in 8 minutes.

I might go to the park after school today.

I would be nice if a rainbow appeared.

Grandma could arrive any minute.

Will you give me some money?

Challenge 1: Watch out for questions! The subject of the question is often between the helping verb and the main verb. If you keep all the words and rearrange the sentence to a declarative sentence, it may be easier to find the verb phrase.

Is she reading a novel?

She is reading a novel.

Challenge 2: Sometimes the verb phrase can be interrupted by an adverb. Be careful not to include the adverb in the verb phrase. Only verbs on the “Approved List of Helping Verbs” can be helping verbs.

Approved list of helping verbs

            To be To have To do Conditionals

















Find out Helping Verbs From the examples for exercise:

  • Katy is watching television.
  • The other children were playing outside.
  • I have finished washing the dishes.
  • I do not care for broccoli.
  • You could try using a stepladder.
  • It might be full of passengers.
  • You should wait a little longer.
  • Will she prefer to ride with Emily instead?
  • Will Katy ride with James to soccer practice?
  • You should wait a little longer.

Action verbs. Definition, Examples and Exercise

Definition: Action verbs name a physical or mental (abstract) action.

Jan wants a horse for her birthday.

I believe in fairies and unicorns.

Ian reads a chapter in his book each night.

Action verbs can be transitive or intransitive. Transitive action verbs “transfer” their action to a direct object. Intransitive action verbs have nothing to “transfer” their action to.

Transitive verb –  Joe will send the price quote as soon as he can.

Intransitive verb – Many of the student are not well. They coughed throughout the lesson.

Find out Action Verbs from the examples for exercise:

  • The dog ran across the yard.
  • She accepted the job offer.
  • She left in a hurry.
  • The cat sat by the window.
  • Will you help me with the laundry?
  • The horse trotted along the trail.
  • Anthony is throwing the football.
  • She yelled when she hit her toe.
  • I will learn to play the guitar this year.
  • In the summer, we will swim in our pool.

Indefinite Pronoun Agreement. Defination, Examples And Exercise


Indefinite Pronouns
Singular Plural Singular or Plural
another each either much neither one other
anybody, anyone, anything everybody, everyone, everything nobody, no one, nothing somebody, someone, something
both few many others several
all any more most none some


You learned in an earlier lesson that indefinite pronouns fall into three categories: some are singular, some plural, and others fall into either category depending on the context of the sentence. When using an indefinite pronoun and a possessive pronoun in the same sentence, people often choose the plural possessive pronoun their, but that’s not always the correct choice. Singular indefinite pronouns take singular possessives, and plural indefinite pronouns take plural possessives.

  • Each cowboy and horse drank his fill at the desert oasis.

Sometimes an indefinite pronoun is followed by a prepositional phrase like this: of the + noun. Beware of this type of phrase. The indefinite and possessive pronouns still need to agree in number. It doesn’t matter whether the noun in of the + noun is singular or plural. Look at the examples below to get a better understanding of how to handle this type of phrase.

  • Many have expressed their views.

With pronouns that can be either singular or plural, you need to look closely at the prepositional phrase of the + noun in order to determine whether the meaning is singular or plural.

  • All of the people clapped their hands.
  • All of the dogs had their walks in the morning.

Find out Pronoun from the examples for exercise:

  • Everybody in the cast has already put on his or her costume.
  • Everyone on the girl’s team is wearing her uniform.
  • Both passed their certification exam.
  • Jolanta tasted several of the dessert and found them delicious.
  • All of the paint has lost its shine.
  • None of the music lived up to its reputations.
  • None of the candidates did well in their interviews.
  • None of the candidates did well in his or her interview.
  • Someone called to tell me the horrible news.
  • Everyone knows it is impolite to point at someone.




Challenges in Pronoun Agreement

Sometimes it can be difficult to ensure that you are using the correct pronoun. The challenge is making sure you know which word is the antecedent.

Challenge 1: Interrupting Phrases

Try not to get distracted by phrases that come between the antecedent and the pronoun.

All the bands in the contest deserves an award.

Hint: Cross out the Interrupting phrases to make sure you find the correct antecedent.

Jeremy one of the waiters, dropped his tray.

Challenge 2: When the Reference Is Unclear

Usually the pronoun refers to the last noun mentioned or the last subject, but sometimes it’s unclear which noun is the antecedent. Some textbooks call this “ambiguous pronoun reference.” If using a pronoun could cause a misunderstanding, it is better to use the noun instead

Examples of Unclear pronouns

  • Einstein was a brilliant mathematician. This is how he was able to explain the universe.
  • Joan and Marcie went to work. She was late.

Hint: Ambiguous pronoun reference occurs often when you write because in your imagination, you can clearly see whom you are writing about. Have a friend read your essay for you, paying special attention to the pronouns.


Challenge 3: Pronoun Shifts

Make sure you don’t change from first or third person to second person, or vice-versa. In other words, don’t switch pronouns midway through your sentence. If you start with the first person (I, we, etc.) or third person (she, they, etc.), stick with it.


One important cause of pronoun shifts is the use of the indefinite you, which is an informal way to talk about others.


  • We went to the top of the Sears Tower where we could see the entire city of Chicago.
  • When you go to the movies, you can buy your ticket in advance.



When you talk to someone using the second person, it’s called direct address. We often use direct address when we ask questions (how are you?). When you use someone’s name as the direct address in a sentence, that person’s name is not the antecedent; the unstated you is the real antecedent.

Maryanne, are these your glasses? The antecedent is the unstated you, not Maryanne, so use your, not her.


Challenge 4: Collective Nouns

Collective nouns appear to be plural nouns because they really refer to a group, but they are often singular. You need to understand how the group is acting in order to choose the correct pronoun. Sometimes the group acts as a whole. Other times the members of the group act as individuals.

  • Our class took a field trip to the natural history museum.
  • The rock group has been on to for months.

Find out Pronouns from the example for exercise:

  • Mary wants to talk to you about your homework.
  • After lunch, she and I went to the planetarium.
  • Cousin Eldered gave me a trombone.
  • Take a picture of him, not us.
  • The red basket is mine.
  • These are hilarious cartoons.
  • Many like salsa with their chips.
  • Hector is a photographer who does great work.
  • They should divide the berries among themselves.
  • The queen herself visited our class.







Pronoun Agreement. Definition, Examples and Exercise

Definition: Ante (not anti) means before. The root cedere means to go. The antecedent goes before the pronoun. It is the noun that the pronoun replaces. A pronoun must match, or agree, with its antecedent in number, person, and gender.


Number Agreement

Singular nouns must match with singular pronouns. Plural nouns must match with plural pronouns.

President Lincoln delivered Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in 1863.

Some of the marbles fell out of their bag.


Person Agreement

When writing about yourself, use I, me, we, or us. When writing directly to someone, use you. When writing about someone (or something) else, use he, she, it, him, her, they, or them. Use it when you don’t know the gender of the thing you’re talking about.

Either Mary or Louise will bring her husband.

She gave her client some helpful legal advice.


Gender Agreement

When writing about men, use he, him, and his. When writing about women, use she and her. If you don’t know the gender, use he or she, him or his, or his or her. Only use they and their if the antecedent is plural.

Neither the daughter nor the mother will bring her husbands.

One of the women put her briefcase under the seat.


Find out pronoun from the examples for exercise:

  • All of the sugar is still in its wrapper.
  • After the trip, all found their way back to the ranch.
  • All of the voters cast their ballots on Tuesday.
  • The police officer asked both of the witnesses they had seen the killer’s face.
  • Neither of the man looked as if he wanted the job.
  • Nobody wants his or her name slandered.
  • After many years, I saw my former husband again.
  • He saw his history professor.
  • The clubs are holding their meetings today.
  • The class must turn in their assignments by Friday.

Indefinite Pronoun. Definition, Examples and Exercise

Indefinite Pronouns

Definition: If your plans for this weekend are indefinite, or not definite, then you are not sure. An indefinite pronoun is one that doesn’t refer to a specific person or thing.

                                       Indefinite Pronouns
                     Singular Plural Singular or plural







Anybody, anyone, anything

Everybody, everyone, everything

Nobody, no one, nothing

Somebody, someone, something















Many indefinite pronouns can also be used as adjectives.

Pronoun: Either will be acceptable to my aunt.

Adjective: Either set of dishes will be acceptable to my aunt.


Find out Indefinite pronouns from the examples for exercise:-

  • All are welcome to the birthday party tonight.
  • Anyone can play the game as long as they the rules.
  • Does anybody have a clue where the dog went?
  • Everyone knows it is impolite to point at someone.
  • Everyone had a great time at the Christmas party.
  • Someone called to tell me the horrible news.
  • I knocked on the door , but there was not anybody I knew.
  • Someone will do anything to gain the attention there.
  • Someone walked past the window and shouted.
  • I really just needed some time away from everyone.


Relative Pronouns. Definition, Examples and Exercise

Relative Pronoun

Definition: A relative is someone who has a relationship with you. Relative pronouns show a relationship between a noun and a clause. The clause provides describing information about the noun. You can also use relative pronouns to combine two sentences into one.


                                                  Relative Pronouns
That Which Who Whom Whose


Note Some relative pronouns may look like interrogative and demonstrative pronouns, but they does not mean all three types of pronouns do the same job.

Examples of Relative pronouns:-

  • The cyclist who won the race trained hard.
  • The pants that I bought yesterday are already stained.
  • The four team leaders, whom ever the committee selects, will be at tomorrow’s meeting.
  • Where did you buy the dress what you wore last week?.
  • The book , when it was finally returned, was torn and stained.
  • The festival, which lasted all day, ended with a banquet.
  • I am looking for someone who can watch my dog while i go on vacation.
  • The police needed details that could help identify the robber.
  • I’d like to take you to a cafe which servers excellent coffee.
  • He club house, in which the dance was held, housed about 200 people.

Demonstrative Pronouns. Definition, Examples and Exercise

Demonstrative Pronouns

Definition: To demonstrate is to show something. Demonstrative pronouns show or point to objects or people.

                                   Demonstrative Pronouns
Close to speaker Far from speaker
Singular           This          That
Plural          These           Those

This and that refer to singular objects or people.

  • There is no end to this.
  • That is a very tall building.

These and those refer to plural objects or people.

  • Are those your shoes.
  • Those are the tallest skyscrapers in the city.


Find out Demonstrative Pronouns from the examples for exercise

  • This way my mother’s ring.
  • That looks like the car I used to drive.
  • These are nice shoes, but they look uncomfortable.
  • Those look like riper than the apples on my tree.
  • Such was her command over the English languages.
  • None of these answer are correct.
  • Neither of the horses can be ridden.
  • That was such an interesting experience.
  • You’ll have to get your own pen. This is mine.
  • Because of their bad behaviour, none of the children were given allowances.


Interrogative Pronouns. Definition, Examples and Exercise

Definition: To interrogate is to ask someone questions. Interrogative pronouns ask questions.

Interrogative Pronouns

Things or People
What Which Who Whom Whose



Which can also be used to indicate a choice or distinction among two or more people.

I see two girls making a sand castle. Which is your sister and which is your cousin?

Each of these interrogative pronouns can be used as either singular or plural. Most of the examples in this lesson are singular, but below are a few plural examples.

Which of these ladies is your brother?

What if the dinosaurs come back while we were all asleep?

Are my kids cute or do they make people uncomfortable?

Who vs. Whom

Who is a subject pronoun. You use it ask for information about what people are doing or who they are.

Who is at the door?

Whom is an object pronoun. It is used to find out whom an action is being done to, not who is doing an action. It is also used with prepositions.

After whom do I enter the stage?



Subject Pronoun Direct or indirect object pronoun
Never use as the object of a preposition Must use with prepositions

Find out Interrogative Pronoun from the example for exercise:

  • What is your favourite colour?
  • Whose shirt is this?
  • Whatsoever do you mean by that?
  • Whom were you speaking with last night?
  • Which of this two do you prefer?
  • I don’t know where she was going?
  • To whom did you give the note?
  • Who will design the new logo?
  • What are you talking about?
  • Whose camera is this?

Reflexive and Intensive Pronouns. Definitions, Examples and Exercise

Reflexive Pronouns:- 

Definition: Reflexive sounds like reflection, the image in the mirror that bounces back at you. A reflexive pronoun tells us that whoever performs the action in a sentence is also the one on the receiving end of that action. In other words, the reflexive pronoun reflects back to the subject. A reflexive pronoun can be used as the direct objectindirect object, or object of a preposition in a sentence.


                                          Reflexive Pronouns
                Singular                         Plural
     Myself                Ourselves
    Yourself              Yourselves





Hint:- If you are still not sure who the pronoun is referring to ask, yourself questions to break down the sentences.

Find the subject (doer)and the verb (action): who saw? The puppy saw.

(The puppy is doing the action.)

Find the object: What did the puppy see? Itself, puppy.

(The puppy is also receiving the action.)

Examples of Reflexive pronouns:-

  • I was in a hurry, so i washed the car myself.
  • You are going to have to drive yourself to school today.
  • He wanted to impress her, so he baked a cake himself.
  • Jennifer does chores herself because she does not trust others to do them right.
  • That car is in a class all by itself.
  • We don’t have to go out, we can fix dinner ourselves.
  • You are too young to go out by yourselves.
  • The actors saved the local theatre money by making costumes themselves.
  • Please make yourselves at home while you wait.
  • The children made holiday decorations by themselves.


Intensive Pronouns:-

Definition: Intensive is like intense. Something intense is very strong. An intensive pronoun emphasizes a preceding noun, which is often (but not always) the noun immediately before the pronoun. Intensive pronouns look exactly the same as reflexive pronouns, but they are only used for emphasis.

The queen herself gave the knight the award

The queen gave the knight the award herself.


Examples of Intensive  pronouns:

  • We ourselves are the ones who make the greatest impact upon the world we live in.
  • Jesse wondered aloud whether the himself was the only one see seeing what was happening.
  • We built a garden shed by ourselves.
  • Jordan made himself a sandwich complete with pickles.
  • I am a little nervous about walking by myself after dark.
  • The twins are growing up fast ; they are already walking by themselves.
  • Jennifer sewed her dress herself.
  • My mother bakes our family’s bread herself.
  • The mayor herself appeared at the rally.
  • The team knew that they themselves were responsible for playing their best.


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