What are x-words?

The x-words are 20 short words with a lot of power. We use them all the time in English. Some of them are marked with an in the text below:

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To learn x-word grammar, first memorize the 20 x-words:

The DO family : do, does, did

The MODALS : can, could, will, would, shall, should, must, might, may

The HAVE family : have, has, had

The BE family : am, is, are, was, were

(You might call these words auxiliary verbs or modals. However, the x-words are more than the modals and they function differently, too.)

Why do the x-words matter? Here are some of their powers:

  • to show time (now? before? both?)
  • to show number (matching with one subject or more)
  • to make questions
  • to say No (making negative statements)
  • to express opinions

To learn more x-word grammar, start noticing the x-words whenever you read in English.