A verb that is used to denote tense rather than to convey the action itself. In English, a large number of tenses are denoted this way, instead of having a new form of the verb as in many other languages. In fact, only the basic present and past tenses use special verb forms. (Ex: "I go" and "I went.")

For example, English has no future tense without an auxiliary verb. We say "I will visit" or "I am going to visit." There are also past tenses that use auxiliaries ("I had been") and present tenses as well ("I am trying"; "I do agree.")

French, on the other hand, has relatively few tenses that use auxiliaries at all. Examples are the passé composé and the futur proche.

Both languages have the same three verbs most commonly used as auxiliaries: to be (être), to have (avoir), and to go (aller).

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