Semi-auxiliary – semi-auxiliaire
Let's Define It!
What's a *semi-auxiliary*?
You certainly know that the two (most common) French auxiliary verbs are avoir and être.
In addition to these two, there are a number of French verbs like aller, devoir, pouvoir, savoir, faillir, etc. that act like auxiliaries. We call them semi-auxiliaries. Notice how the infinitives follow the semi-auxiliaries in the following two examples.
"Je sais nager" I know how to swim. / I can swim.
"Elvis doit travailler cette nuit" / Elvis must work tonight.
The semi-auxiliaries connect themselves to other verbs that remain in the infinitive. While conjugated, these semi-auxiliaries help the infinitives express aspects of time and mood. So in a sense, you can say that any French verb capable of accepting another verb in the infinitive next to it is a semi-auxiliary.
Unlike the traditional auxiliaries avoir and être taking a past participle, semi-auxiliaries typically take an infinitive.
Let's Pronounce It!
What does it sound like in French?
Let's Have an Example or Two!
Can a little reinforcement do the trick?
Find below a number of sentences that include semi-auxiliary verbs.
- J'ai fait venir le docteur. / I called for the doctor.
- Nous voulons aller au cinéma. / We want to go to the movie theater.
- Elle va jouer au foot. / She is going to play soccer.
- Les enfants savent maintenant faire un noeud. / The children now know how to make a knot.
- Il ne peut pas soulever cette pierre. /He can't lift this stone.