Grammar 7


Helping Words (Review)

Complicated sentences can often be simplified by "cancelling" words that do not affect the underlying clause patterns. (To "cancel" a word means to ignore it or clump it together with another word or phrase).

For example, you have learned that you can cancel the following categories of words:

There is another large category of words that you can almost always cancel. These words are called "helping words". Helping words refine the meaning of main verbs. For example, they can:

It is important to realize that helping words do not change the basic structure of a clause.

Consider the sentence "I am a student." This is an equative clause (I = student). However, all the following variations of this sentence are also equative clauses:

I am a student.
  • I was a student
  • I have been a student.
  • I will be a student.
  • I am going to be a student.
  • I could be a student.
  • I would be a student.
  • I should be a student.
  • I might be a student.
  • I might have been a student.
  • I am not a student.
  • I was not a student.
  • I will not be a student.
  • I could not have been a student.
  • I might not be a student.

Most of the sentences that I will ask you to analyze will be positive sentences in present tense or simple past tense. However, occassiaonlly you may encounter sentence variations such as the ones above. Don't be thrown off. If it helps, convert the sentence into a positive statement in present tense or simple past tense. This should make it easier to analyze the sentence.

Study the following sentences to see how each of them has been simplified.

  Simplified Sentence Clause Pattern
1 I might sing. intransitive (SV)
2 She is going to be a dancer. equative (S=C)
3 She can swim. intransitive (SV)
4 Jane should not ask questions. transitive (SVO)
5 I did not give the monkey a banana. ditransitive (SVOiOd)

Here is a more-or-less complete list of helping words that you can (almost) always cancel.

Helping Words
  • may
  • may not
  • might
  • might not
  • must
  • must not
  • do
  • do not
  • does
  • does not
  • did
  • did not
  • should
  • should not
  • could
  • could not
  • would
  • would not
  • have
  • have not
  • had
  • had not
  • has
  • has not
  • will
  • will not
  • going to
  • not going to
  • can
  • cannot
  • shall
  • shall not

Instruction for the Quiz

Find the base clause by cancelling all the helping words.