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Most of us know what verbs are: they either show action or they “link” a subject with a complement (predicate noun or predicate adjective).

> Action verb (intransitive): Marianne sings. (Sentence is complete; nothing more is required.)

> Action verb (transitive): Sarah dropped the vase. (Sentence requires a direct object [vase] to make sense.)

> Auxiliary verbs: These verbs include be, do, have, can, may, and so on. The “help” is the main verb that express tense, mood, or voice: John may arrive in time for dinner.

> Linking verb with predicate adverb: The children were outside. (The adverb [outside] tells where the children were.)

> Linking verb with predicate noun: Bob is an excellent dentist. (Dentist merely renames the subject, Bob.)

> Linking verb with predicate adjective: Olga is beautiful. (Beautiful describes the subject, Olga.)

Note, however, that this last sentence loses its predicate adjective and gains a predicate noun if it is rewritten as Olga is a beautiful woman. (Beautiful now describes woman, not Olga; woman is a predicate noun.)

This explanation of verbs has been easy, so far. The discussion becomes somewhat more difficult, however, when we consider that verbs have moods. They are:

Indicative, indicating facts or reality. It is the most common mood in English sentences.

Example: My brother repaired the automobile.

Example: She walks her dogs three times daily.

Example: The whole story is false.

Imperative, indicating a command. The subject is often implied.

Example: Get to the stern of the boat! (You is implied.)

Example: Please come as soon as possible.

Example: Forward, March!

Interrogative, indicating a question. Some grammarians consider this a variation of the indicative mood.

Example: Who started the rumor?

Example: When is he coming?

Example: Have we met before?

Conditional, in which the words might, couldwould, and if-then often appear.

Example: You should study harder. (If you want a good grade in this course.)

Example: If you want to get home by midnight, you should leave by 11.

Example: If I had the time, I’d write for EzineArticles. (Then is implied.)

Subjunctive, indicating a hypothetical statement or a statement contrary to fact.

Example: If I were you, I would see a dentist. (I am not you.)

Example: I wish I were a good driver. (Not “was a good driver.”)

Example: Suppose he was to tell the whole story! (Not “was to tell the whole story.”)

The subjunctive mood is the most troublesome for novice writers. They understandably want subjects and verbs to agree in person and in number. The subjunctive mood creates an exception to the subject-verb rule.

Example: Our club (subject) gives (verb) three presentations each year. (Both subject and verb are singular.)

Subjunctive: If our club were more active we would perhaps attract younger members.

Example: The car (subject) doesn’t (verb) need washing.

Subjunctive: If the car were in the driveway I would wash it.

Conclusion. Some grammarians recognize only three moods (indicative, imperative, and subjunctive). The five presented here will, however, give novice writers a more complete understanding of verb moods and their precise roles in sentences.

This book has lots of action words, with some science terms

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