Copula Verbs vs Auxiliary Verbs? What’s the Difference?

English is a complex language with many different types of verbs. Two of these types of verbs are copula verbs and auxiliary verbs. What’s the difference between copula and auxiliary verbs, and how do you use them properly?

Copula verbs can be referred to as “main verbs” since they can happen in both the main and subordinate clauses in a sentence. Meanwhile an auxiliary verb is the opposite since it’s called a “helping verb”. This means that auxiliary verbs need other verbs to function and can’t stand on their own. Auxiliary verbs are verbs that support other verbs, and copula verbs can stand on their own.

The rest of this article will cover what a copula verb is, and what an auxiliary verb is.

What A Copula Verb Is

If you want to remember copula, think of it like the word “independent”. These verbs can appear on their own and make the sentence complete. They’re complemented by the clause structure and subject predicative, but as a verb, they can stand on their own.

Adjectives, not adverbs, tend to follow copula verbs. For example, you can say “he looks pretty”. The “looks” is the copula verb since it can carry the sentence on its own, then the “pretty” is the adjective that adds to the verb and closes off the sentence.

Here is a list of some of the most common copula verbs: be, feel, seem, appear, look, sound, smell, taste, become, get.

Here is an example of a copula verb in a sentence: “That doesn’t seem like him.”

What An Auxiliary Verb Is

The opposite of copula verbs are auxiliary verbs. They exist to aid other verbs by giving them a mood, voice, or tense. It’s also called a helping verb, so both “auxiliary” verb and “helping” verb are proper terms to refer to this type of verb.

Here is a list of some of the most common auxiliary verbs: am, is, are, was, were, has, had, does, did, will do.

Here is an example of an auxiliary verb used to set the tense: “She was gone for an hour.” In this sentence, the helping verb, “was”, is setting the tense of the sentence. It sets the sentence in the past tense.

You can express the mood like this: “Did you win?” In this example, the “did” is setting up the mood of the question.

Lastly, to express voice, you can say this: “My phone will be disconnected soon.” In this example, the “will be” is helping form a passive voice.