What are the differences between lexical verbs and auxiliary verbs?

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The above answers do a good job, but it is good to start with definitions. 

Lexical verbs express action, state of being, or predicate meaning. In a word, they are the main verbs of a sentence. 

An auxiliary verb is a helping verb, that is, auxiliary verbs help the main verb. When auxiliary verbs exists, there is a verb phrase.

Here are a few examples:

1. The boy ran into the forest. "Ran" is the main or lexical verb.

2. The boy will have run into the forest. "Ran" is still the main or lexical verb, but the words "will have" are auxiliary verbs, as they help the main verb. 

3. She saw the bird....

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delfine | Student

The term "auxiliary" comes from the Latin word "auxilium", which means "help", especially in a military context. The comparison to the battlefield is useful because it helps us understand that if the auxiliary verbs can be a great asset to the lexical verbs, the battle itself is led by the lexical verbs: they are the lead actors, the auxiliary verbs are mostly backstage, and used if needed.

Auxiliary verbs are commonly used to create the compound verbal tenses and voices and are associated with present or past participles. To that extent, "to be" and "to have" are the only auxiliary verbs per se.

Examples: I am writing, she has done, you have been said...

Some verbs are traditionally called "semi-auxiliary" verbs because they emphasize the aspects and/or the modes. In that case, they are followed by the the infinitive without "to".

The aspectual auxiliary verbs say if an action is done, is currently going or is up to be done. They also say if the action starts or has just been done.

The modal auxiliary verbs mostly express possibility and obligation: I can do it; you must not forget it.

The term "lexical" comes from the old Greek root meaning "word": the lexical verbs are meaningful in themselves, they are "the action" itself, contrary to the auxiliary verbs which put the lexical verbs in context.

As such, the lexical verbs are often the core of a sentence: "you ask, I answer" and are also the large majority of the verbs in the dictionary.

sid-sarfraz | Student

Lexical verbs are also known as main verbs that are words showing state or action. Like;

  • Run
  • Walk
  • Write
  • Paint
  • Jog

Where as,

Auxiliary verbs are also known as helping verbs. Basically these are words that help enhancing the meaning of the verbs. These show tense (past or present), aspects, modality(state) and voice(active or passive). Like;

  • is
  • was
  • shall
  • would
  • did