On the Universality of Auxiliary Verbs

Nasser Al-Horais 1 ,
Author Information & Copyright
1Qassim University, KSA
Corresponding Author : Nasser Al-Horais, Arabic Language Department, Qassim University P.O.Box 6611, Buraidah 51425, Saudi Arabia. Phone: 00966556063595; Email:

Copyright ⓒ 2016, Sejong University Language Research Institue. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Sep 06, 2011; Revised: Nov 01, 2011; Accepted: Nov 29, 2011

Published Online: Jan 01, 2017


Cross-linguistically, it has often been observed that there is no any specific language-independent formal definition that can be used to determine the characterization of any given element as an auxiliary verb. This paper, though it agrees to some extent with this observation, argues that there is still room to find some universal properties that help us end up with the conclusion that auxiliaries and lexical verbs are two distinct types of syntactic entities. To this end, this paper describes the characteristics necessary for what is to count as an auxiliary verb. Having done that, the paper turns to illustrate the most common properties that can be found among languages in order to find a clear universally agreed definition of an auxiliary verb.

Keywords: auxiliary verb; lexical verb; morphological information; theta role; negation; structural property; NICE property



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