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CHAPTER 20 – Definition – Auxiliary verb – Verbe auxiliaire

In French grammar, an auxiliary (un auxiliaire in French) is a verb that you can combine to another (main) verb to add something (grammatical traits) to its meaning including the person, tense, aspect, voice, mode, etc.)

J’ai mangé une banane. –> I ate/have eaten a banana.

Elle est arrivée. –> She has arrived.

L’auxiliaire  precedes the verb in French. It helps conjugate it.

In French, there are two basic auxiliaries: être and avoir.

With an auxiliary, you can make compound tenses such as the passé composé, past conditional, etc. You can also set the voice (passive) of a sentence.

Oftentimes, verbs other than avoir and être can can join other verbs in the infinitive form and give them additional temporal, aspectual or modal meanings.  We call such verbs a semi-auxiliary or modal verb (un semi-auxiliaire) –> aller / faire / devoir / pouvoir, etc.

Je vais partir bientôt.. –> I’m going to leave soon

Tu dois t’assoir correctement. –> You must sit correctly 

N.B. Semi-auxiliaries are conjugated while the main verbs stay in the infinitive.