Helping Verbs – word lists, activities, worksheets, and more

Word List in Developmental Order

Simple Present

am, are, is, do, does, have, has, can

Simple Past and Future

was, were, did, had, could, might, will, would, should, may


aren’t, isn’t, don’t, doesn’t, haven’t, hasn’t, can’t, wasn’t, weren’t, didn’t, hadn’t, couldn’t, won’t, wouldn’t

Two Word Combinations

will be, have been, has been, had been, should be, will have, might have, has eaten, have finished, etc.

Three (Or More) Word Combinations

will have finished, should have been, should not be, must have been eating, etc.

Basic Picture Activities

Click on picture to view a small preview of each activity. Click on Doc or PDF to download worksheets in preferred format.


(1) using “is” pix Doc PDF;     (2) using “are” pix Doc PDF;     (3) id and using “is” and “are” 1 Doc PDF;      (4) id and using “is” and “are” 2 Doc PDF;     (5) using “has” Doc PDF;     (6) using “have” Doc PDF;     (7) id and using “has” and “have” 1 Doc PDF;     (8) id and using “has” and “have” 2 Doc 

Other Basic Worksheets and Activities

Click on picture to view a small preview of each activity. Click on Doc or PDF to download worksheets in preferred format.

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)(7)(8)

(9)helping verb matching has have(10)helping verb matching is are

(1) “Is” sentence fill in the blank Doc PDF;     (2) Basic Helping Verb Fill In the Blanks Doc PDF;     (3) Fix It!  Basic Helping Verbs Doc PDF;     (4) Basic Sentence Search Doc PDF; (5) Helping Verb Puzzle Doc PDF;     (6) Sentence Drop 1 Doc PDF;     (7) has have contrast cards Doc PDF;   (8) is are contrast cards Doc PDF;     (9) helping verb matching – has/have Doc PDF;     (10) helping verb matching – is/are Doc PDF

Expanded Verb Tense Activities

Click on picture to view a small preview of each activity. Click on Doc or PDF to download worksheets in preferred format.

(1) (2)(3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12)

(1) Sentence Search 2 DocPDF;     (2) Sentence Search 3 DocPDF;     (3)Sentence Drop 2 Doc PDF;     (4)Hidden Word Picture Doc PDF;     (5) ZigZags/Blurt Activities Doc PDF;     (6) Fill in the Blank/Misc. Activities Doc PDF;     (7) Sentence Maze Doc PDF;     (8) Bullseye 1 Doc PDF;      (9) Bullseye 2 Doc PDF;      (10) Bullseye 3 Doc PDF;     (11) Scripts/DrillDoc PDF;     (12) What’s Next? Doc PDF

Background Information

Helping verbs are used to show tense or mood.   In more complex sentences, they are used to show the perfect verb tenses, continuous/progressive/perfect verb tenses, and passive voice.  Helping verbs are always followed by a second verb, though not always immediately.  Helping verbs (also called auxiliaries) can be used before the word not.  Main verbs can not.  The auxiliary system in English is notorious for it’s complexity.  There are about 24 billion billion logically possible combinations of auxiliaries, of which only about a hundred are grammatical  (Pinker, 1995).

Because tense and mood can often be eliminated without sacrificing a sentence’s entire meaning, children that have difficulty with length and complexity of sentences do often eliminate these nonessential words.  For example, “I talking.” can typically be understood as “I am talking.”   Just as children with phonological processing disorders frequently simplify sound production, these same children frequently simplify morphology by omitting morphological markers, and syntax by omitting functional words.  Among the most frequently omitted category of functional words are helping verbs.

Research suggests that children with specific language impairment do, in fact, have greater difficulty with functional words, such as auxiliary verbs, than MLU matched normally developing children  (Leonard, 2000).  These show up frequently on tests of language, including the CASL, CELF, OWLS, and SPELT tests.  Helping verb difficulty coexists with many commonly deficient language skills, including subject verb agreement, negation, verb tense, phrases, clauses, questions, contractions, and suffixes.

Goal Ideas

Jefferson will comprehend age appropriate helping verbs, such as am, are, is, etc., in sentences.

Robert will produce age appropriate helping verbs in sentences.

Ulysses will produce and comprehend sentences with two word auxiliary verb combinations, such as will be, has been, will have, etc.

Methods of Elicitation

Functional Activity Ideas

17 thoughts on “Helping Verbs – word lists, activities, worksheets, and more

  1. Pingback: Welcome to Free Language Stuff! « Free Language Stuff

  2. Coyle CCC/SLP

    When a child does not use helping verbs, they often cannot read yet. These activities seem a little high for the target. Some of your great picture activities would be helpful if you could make some! Thanks, CCC/SLP in Florida


  3. Paul Post author

    Thanks for the comments – I’ve created some more picture activities targeting helping verbs.


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