Why can't we use helping verbs in positive sentences of present simple tense and past simple tense?

Such as:

She makes tea.
They went to the park.

If we convert them into negative or interrogative sentences, we use helping verb; but in case of other tenses we use helping verb in all formats of sentences i.e. positive, negative, and interrogative.


Because that's how English grammar works. English verbs have three principal parts:

  • the infinitive (go)
  • the preterite or simple past (went)
  • the past participle (gone).

All conjugations of the verb are derived from these three parts. Conjugations can vary based on a host of factors:

  • person (first, second, third)
  • number (singular, plural)
  • tense (past, present, future)
  • aspect (simple/unaspected, continuous/progressive, perfective)
  • mood (indicative, interrogative, subjunctive, imperative)
  • modality (possibility, necessity, volition, prediction)
  • voice (active, passive)

...and probably a bunch of others I'm forgetting at the moment. Despite this plethora of possible conjugations, though, they all derive from these principal parts.

For instance, to generate the progressive aspect, we add -ing to the infinitive (thus, going) and use it with the helper/auxiliary verb to be; to generate the perfective aspect, we use the past participle along with the auxiliary to have.

And for the conjugations you're asking about, the present unaspected indicative active a.k.a. simple present, and the past unaspected indicative active a.k.a. preterite or simple past, well, they are formed using the infinitive and the preterite respectively. Of these two, the present is marked only for third person singular with the -s ending (I go but she goes, you cry but he cries); the past does not vary for person or number (We went, he went). They don't take auxiliaries because that is the rule that governs their formation.

The "positive" (I take it you mean affirmative) is a red herring. The rule for negation in English is simple: put not after the first component of the entire verb construct, whether simple or compound:

I had gone, I had not gone.
She will be going, she will not be going.

Even with simple constructions, this results in perfectly grammatical sentences:

He goes, he goes not.
You went, you went not.

It's just that those sentences are archaic or poetic; modern English replaces the simple constructions with the emphatic modal for the negative:

I go, I do go, I do not go.
They went, they did go, they did not go.

Asking why English follows those rules is a metaphysical question. It's like asking why English doesn't have a dual number or a middle voice: it just doesn't. The language doesn't work that way. So the only possible answer to your question is: those particular conjugations don't need auxiliaries because English grammar is the way it is; English verbs are conjugated according to the rules of the language, and those rules are what make English the language that it is.

| improve this answer | |

The whole point of 'simple' is to not need 'helping verbs'. You could use the emphatic 'helper': "She does make tea." "They did go to the park."

| improve this answer | |
  • But don't you think that "Do or Does" is used between subject and verb to emphasis? As i believe that is not helping verb; as far as, my question was this that why we cannoy use helping verb in positive sentences of present simple and past simple. Other tenses are not having this situation. – Aryan Ali Jun 14 '16 at 22:57
  • In 'She has gone to the park', the auxiliary, 'has', before the past participle, is used for the very reason of creating the required 'tense' (more precisely, past construction). And English uses auxiliaries to create the usual form of questions and negatives. Like the special cog in a car gearbox put there to enable one to have a reverse gear. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 13 '16 at 8:19
  • 'Did she go to the park?' – AmI Oct 14 '16 at 19:00

The first sentence is in the simple present, and the latter is in the preterite. This tells the audience that the making of the tea and the walking to the park are/were completed actions from a point in time—they were not drawn out, nor were they habitually repeated.

If you said, "She is making tea," then the audience would understand that this process takes place in the present and will continue to take place in the near future. (That tense is called the present progressive.) If you had said, "They would go to the park," then this would convey that the action was done many times (e.g., during the Spring). (This tense is called the past imperfect.)

When asking questions, one uses the past perfect and says, "Have you ever made tea?" or, "Have you ever walked to the park?" because the times at which events occurred and their duration as well as the frequency with which they occurred are all unknown. (If one answers a question, he or she should most likely use the tense in which the question was posed.)

Which tense is used is all up to you, the author and the speaker, based on what you want to depict when stating or based on what you need to know (or don't know) when asking.

You could probably find some of this online as well if you looked up the names of the tenses. Best of luck to you! —C.T.

| improve this answer | |
  • User56478. Thank you so much for your kind explanation, but still I didn't get the answer of not using helping verb in positive sentences of present simple tense and past simple tense. – Aryan Ali Jun 15 '16 at 5:57
  • The formula for these tenses is simply defined by the rules of the language. If the action was completed and done, then you by definition use the preterite or the simple present. If it occurred in a different fashion, then one of the plus or minus 23 tenses should suffice. @AryanAli – gen-z ready to perish Jun 15 '16 at 6:03
  • You can't use them in those two sentences simply because no one has ever used that and people probably will not any time soon—that's just the way the language has evolved @AryanAli – gen-z ready to perish Jun 15 '16 at 6:04
  • I know @Mari-LouA , but really either is fine since there is no context given. Trust me, I'm a bilingual US citizen and native English speaker. Like I said, it all depends on what he knows or what he wants to convey – gen-z ready to perish Jun 15 '16 at 6:26
  • Sorry, but I had to reverse my upvote. Have you ever walked to the park? is in the Present Perfect, saying it is Past Perfect is misleading, and wrong. – Mari-Lou A Jun 15 '16 at 6:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.