- 1 What is mood in grammar? (with examples)
- 2 Examples of the Indicative Mood
- 3 Examples of the Imperative Mood
- 4 Examples of the Subjunctive Mood
- 5 More Examples of the Subjunctive Mood
- 6 More about the Subjunctive Mood
- 7 Verbs That Attract the Subjunctive Mood
- 8 Adjectives That Attract the Subjunctive Mood
- 9 Well-Known Terms Featuring the Subjunctive Mood
- 10 More about Mood
- 11 Why Should I Care about Mood?
- 12 (Reason 1) Use the subjunctive mood because it usually sounds better to the native ear…and you can show off.
- 13 (Reason 2) Understanding mood will help when learning a foreign language.
- 14 Key Points
What is mood in grammar? (with examples)
The mood is the form a verb takes to show how it should be considered (eg, as a fact, a command, a wish, an uncertainty).
There are three moods in English:
The Indicative Mood. The indicative mood states a fact or asks a question. For example:
- The sky is blue.
- Why is the sky blue?
The Imperative Mood. El modo imperativo expresa una orden. Por ejemplo:
- Make your bed.
- Go away!
The Subjunctive Mood. The subjunctive mood shows a wish, a suggestion, a demand, or a condition contrary to fact. For example:
- I wish it were true.
- I demand he be released.
Examples of the Indicative Mood
The indicative mood states a fact or asks a question.
- The cat sat on the mat.
- Is the cat on the mat?
- A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere. (Comedian Groucho Marx)
Examples of the Imperative Mood
El modo imperativo expresa una orden o una petición.
- Get out!
- Please leave the building calmly.
- Don’t give up on your dreams. Keep sleeping.
Examples of the Subjunctive Mood
The subjunctive mood is the complicated one. It shows a desire, a suggestion, a demand or a condition contrary to the fact.
- He wishes it were him.
(This is a wish. Note the use of“were“instead of“was.“)
- I suggest he be told.
(This is a suggestion. Note the use of“be“instead of“is.“)
- I demand he apologise.
(This is a demand. Note the use of“he apologized“instead of“apologises.“)
- If I were you, I’d leave.
(This is a condition contrary to fact. Note the use of“were“instead of“was.“)
More Examples of the Subjunctive Mood
Here is another explanation with some real life examples.
The subjunctive mood is the verb form used to explore a hypothetical situation, including:
Expressing a wish.
- Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better. (Entrepreneur Jim Rohn)
Making a suggestion.
- I suggest a chip be put in future robots’ brains to shut them off if they have murderous thoughts. (Physicist Michio Kaku)
Making a demand.
- The demand that I make of my reader is that he devote his whole life to reading my works. (Irish novelist James Joyce)
Expressing a condition contrary to fact.
- When I hear a man preach, I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees. (President Abraham Lincoln)
More about the Subjunctive Mood
This table summarizes how a verb changes when it is in subjunctive mode.
|Normal Example||Subjunctive Form||Subjunctive Example|
|I am available.
You are lucky.
She is here.
|be||I demand that I be available.
I ask that you be truthful.
It’s essential that she be here.
|She has a chance.||have||I demand she have a chance.|
|I was free.
He was happy.
|were||If I were free, I’d go.
I wish he were happy.
|She makes sushi.||prepare, work, sing, etc.
(remove the s)
|I propose she make sushi.|
Verbs That Attract the Subjunctive Mood
Los siguientes verbos a menudo atraen el modo subjuntivo:“ask“,“to send“,“demand“,“to insist“,“organize“,“to recommend“,“suggest“y“want“.
- All we ask of a president is that he be likeable. We seem to have given up on the Pentagon’s corrupt use of our tax dollars. (Author Donella Meadows)
- If you are a dog and your owner suggests that you wear a sweater suggest that he wear a tail. (Author Fran Lebowitz)
Adjectives That Attract the Subjunctive Mood
Los siguientes adjetivos, especialmente cuando se usan con la palabra“it’s“, often attract the subjunctive mood:“crucial“,“essential“,“important“,“imperative“y“necessary“.
- It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. (Political activist Thomas Paine)
Well-Known Terms Featuring the Subjunctive Mood
The subjunctive mode also appears in some well-known terms.
- God save the Queen.
(I wish that“God save the Queen“.)
- May The Force be with you. (Star Wars)
More about Mood
With the exception of an imperative sentence, the type of the sentence does not indicate the mood.
Why Should I Care about Mood?
Aquí hay dos buenas razones para preocuparse por el estado de ánimo en la gramática.
(Reason 1) Use the subjunctive mood because it usually sounds better to the native ear…and you can show off.
Native English speakers easily create sentences in the indicative and imperative moods. The same does not always happen with the subjunctive mood.
Outside the established terms (e.g.“If I were you“), subjunctive verbs sometimes sound awkward. However, most verbs in the subjunctive mood sound aesthetically pleasing to the native ear.
As we have already seen, verbs can change in the subjunctive mood (usually“was“becomes“were“y“is“becomes“be“), but an unchanged verb will almost always remain intact. Therefore, we should expect the subjunctive mood to continue to fade until, perhaps unfortunately for some, its use is considered archaic.
- I demanded an apology. (subjunctive version)
(This is correct, and it sounds quite highbrow.)
- I demand he apologizes. (non-subjunctive version)
(Almost nobody would challenge this.)
In any case, it is the subjunctive version (terms outside the set) that grates in the native ear today. But we haven’t gotten to the point where the subjunctive version is out of date. This means you can use it. And, you should use it. Why? Well you can use the term“subjunctive mood“when they challenge you They will google it and you will be right. That’s why you should care about the mood, or at least the subjunctive mood.
(Reason 2) Understanding mood will help when learning a foreign language.
Mood is a term you’ll hear when learning foreign languages (many of which have many more changes than normal).“optional“), so it’s worth having a basic understanding of mood to help decipher its verbal changes.
- Out of established terms, the subjunctive mood is fading in English, but you should use it because:
- Usually sounds good to the native ear.
- Usually sounds more intellectual.
- It’s a missed opportunity to show off if you don’t.
- If you’re learning a foreign language whose verbs change depending on mood, it pays to have a basic understanding of what mood is in English.