Here’s a quote from someone whose politics I’m no fan of, but who turned out to have an excellent sense of humour: “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”

Such simple elegance in that second sentence there, right?

What I love about this quote is that Thatcher (in case you hadn’t guessed who said it) packs so much meaning into the simple words “are” and “aren’t.”

By harnessing the power of auxiliary verbs, she manages to make the three letters of “are” mean “being powerful AND being a lady” and the five letters of “aren’t” mean “not being powerful OR being a lady.”

Auxiliary verbs are, in my opinion, the advanced learner’s secret weapon. By using auxiliaries to make the language more efficient, a learner is seriously taking steps towards proficiency.

To demonstrate how useful they are, I thought it would be a good idea to make this video that consists almost entirely of auxiliary verbs.

So I did.


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