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Grammatical Mood

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Grammatical Mood

The term 'mood' doesn't always relate to feelings in the English language. This article is about grammatical moods - the use of different verbs and verb forms to help create the primary purpose of a sentence.

This article will explain what grammatical moods are, list the five main grammatical moods, and provide plenty of examples of each grammatical mood.

Grammatical Mood Definition

The term grammatical mood refers to the use of verbs and different verb forms to indicate (show) the purpose of a sentence. There are five main grammatical moods in the English language: indicative mood, interrogative mood, imperative mood, conditional mood, and subjunctive mood. The grammatical mood of a sentence is defined according to its purpose.

The use of verbs can show whether the sentence intends to express a fact (indicative mood), a wish (subjunctive mood), a command (imperative mood), a condition (conditional mood), or ask a question (interrogative mood).

We can adapt verbs to show the grammatical mood with the help of inflections (a change in the word form, e.g. adding '-s' or '-ed') and auxiliary verbs (these are helping verbs, e.g. did, has, was, were, is).

'Did you finish your homework? '

  • This sentence is in the interrogative mood as it is asking a question. The use of the auxiliary verb 'did' helps to form the question and the interrogative mood.

'If I were rich, I'd buy a Ferrari.'

  • This sentence is in the subjunctive mood as it expresses a hypothetical wish. The use of the auxiliary verb 'were' rather than 'was' shows that this sentence is in the subjunctive mood.

Hypothetical means a situation or idea that is made-up or potentially possible, rather than a real situation or idea.

Grammatical Mood List

There are five main grammatical moods in English - indicative mood, interrogative mood, imperative mood, conditional mood, and subjunctive mood. Let's take a look at each one in detail with some examples.

There are more than five grammatical moods in language; however, you don't have to learn them all now. We have decided to show you only the five main ones today!

The indicative mood

The indicative mood is used when the speaker wishes to express something they believe to be true, such as a factual statement, an opinion, or a fact-checking question. Because of this, we typically use the indicative mood when making declarative sentences. For example, 'He will be back later' is a declarative sentence that is spoken in an indicative mood.

When forming the indicative mood, we can use any tense.

The indicative mood examples

Here are some different examples of sentences which use the indicative mood. The verbs that help establish the mood of the sentences have been highlighted in bold.

Paris is the capital of France.

He was at the park yesterday.

He will be there tomorrow.

They are coming to Spain, right?

The imperative mood

The imperative mood is used for expressing commands and instructions. The imperative mood shows that the speaker wants something to happen or someone else to do something. We typically use the imperative mood when forming imperative sentences, e.g. 'sit down!'.

To form the imperative mood, we use the verb's infinitive form without the word 'to'. For example, the infinitive verb 'to sit' becomes 'sit'. For negative commands, we use the verb's infinitive form without 'to' plus the words 'do not (don't)', e.g. 'Do not sit down!'.

The imperative mood examples

Here are some different examples of sentences which use the imperative mood. The verbs that help establish the mood of the sentences have been highlighted in bold.

Take your jacket off.

Don't talk back to me.

Pass me the remote, please.

Don't forget the tickets!

Grammatical mood Image of teacher using the imperative mood StudySmarterTeacher using the imperative mood - StudySmarter Original

The interrogative mood

The interrogative mood is used for asking questions. We use the interrogative mood when forming interrogative sentences (i.e. questions). To create a question, we need to use an auxiliary verb (helping verb), such as did, is, do, and are, often alongside another main verb.

The interrogative mood examples

Here are some different examples of sentences which use the interrogative mood. The verbs that help establish the mood of the sentences have been highlighted in bold.

Do you have the gift?

Are you sure?

Where is she?

What did you buy?

The subjunctive mood

The subjunctive mood is a little trickier than the others as it is used for a few different reasons. We use the subjunctive mood to discuss hypothetical situations, express wishes, give a demand or suggestion, and explore conditional situations.

The subjunctive and conditional moods can easily be confused as they can both be used to explore conditional situations. The main difference is that conditional mood is used for real-life situations, whereas the subjunctive mood is used for more hypothetical or imaginary situations.

When forming the subjunctive mood, the verb always changes. The way it changes is dependent on the sentence and its purpose.

When discussing a hypothetical situation, a wish, or a conditional, the verb will 'move back in time' one space, e.g. 'have' becomes 'had', 'walk' becomes 'walked', and 'run' becomes 'ran'.

When giving a demand or suggestion, we use the base form of the verb without the use of any inflections. e.g. 'I demand he give me a raise' and 'It's suggested she visit the castle'.

Inflections

Inflection is a type of word formation that involves adding one or more letters to a word to express different grammatical categories, such as tense, mood, and quantity. For example, in English, we often add '-s' or '-es' to a noun to show it's a plural, '-ed' to a verb to show it happened in the past, and '-s' to a verb to show it was a completed by a singular 3rd person, e.g. 'He waters the plants'.

The subjunctive mood and the verb 'to be'

The change to the verb 'to be' is one of the easiest ways to spot the subjunctive mood. When using the subjunctive mood to express a hypothetical situation, a wish, or a conditional, the verb 'to be' is always presented as 'were', even when you would usually use 'was'. For example, we would say 'I wish I were famous' not 'I wish I was famous'.

When using the subjunctive mood to give a demand or suggestion, the verb 'to be' remains as 'be' rather than 'is' 'are' or 'am'. For example, we would say 'I suggest he be early today' not 'I suggest he is early today'.

The subjunctive mood examples

Here are some different examples of sentences which use the subjunctive mood. The verbs that help establish the mood of the sentences have been highlighted in bold.

If I were rich, I would travel the world.

I wish I had a new car.

I suggest he wear something warmer.

I wish I were famous.

She requests you be there early.

The conditional mood

The conditional mood is most commonly used when the occurrence or completion of one action is dependent on another, and to express the condition under which something could happen. For example, in the following sentence, 'If Joe had come home, he could have taken the car', Joe could have taken the car under the condition he went home.

We usually form the conditional mood with the help of modal verbs.

Modal verbs are a specific type of auxiliary (helping) verbs that express possibility, probability, permission, ability, and intentions. Some examples of modal verbs include should, would, could, may, might, can, could, and must.

It is not unusual to see sentences that utilise both the conditional and subjunctive moods.

The conditional mood examples

Here are some different examples of sentences which use the conditional mood. The verbs that help establish the mood of the sentences have been highlighted in bold.

If she had studied harder, she might have received better grades.

If you want to visit me, I will take time off work.

If she couldn't get cake, Lily would get a brownie instead.

You must sleep well if you want to have energy.

Grammatical mood Image of mum talking to child using conditional sentence StudySmarterMum using the conditional mood with child - StudySmarter Original

Grammatical Mood Examples

Now that you understand the grammatical mood and the five main moods in English let's put your new knowledge to the test!

Look at the following five sentences. Can you identify the mood of each sentence?

1. Did you finish all the cake?

2. I suggest she sit down.

3. Close the door!

4. If I can't find anything to wear, I'm not going to the party.

5. She's not happy today.

Answers:

1. Interrogative mood.

2. Subjunctive mood.

3. Imperative mood.

4. Conditional mood.

5. Indicative mood.

Grammatical Mood - Key Takeaways

  • The term grammatical mood refers to the use of verbs and different verb forms to indicate (show) the purpose of a sentence.
  • There are five main grammatical moods in the English language: indicative mood, interrogative mood, imperative mood, conditional mood, and subjunctive mood.
  • The indicative mood is used when the speaker wishes to express something they believe to be true, such as a factual statement, an opinion, or a fact-checking question.
  • The imperative mood is used for commands and instructions.
  • The interrogative mood is used for asking questions
  • The subjunctive mood is to discuss hypothetical situations, express wishes, give a demand or suggestion, and explore conditional situations.
  • The conditional mood is most commonly used when the occurrence or completion of one action is dependent on another.

Frequently Asked Questions about Grammatical Mood

The term grammatical mood refers to the use of verbs and different verb forms to highlight the purpose of a sentence.

The 5 main grammatical moods in English are: indicative mood, interrogative mood, imperative mood, conditional mood, and subjunctive mood.

There are several grammatical moods in the English language. The primary three are indicative, imperative, and subjunctive moods. A further two important moods are the interrogative and conditional moods. Further, less prominent, moods are the optative and potential moods.

The imperative mood is used to make requests and demands e.g. 'Pass the salt, please'.

The subjunctive mood is used to discuss hypothetical situations.

Final Grammatical Mood Quiz

Question

What is a 'grammatical mood'?

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Answer

A grammatical mood is a feature of grammar applied to verbs that is used to show how the verb is meant to be perceived or understood. 

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Question

What is the subjunctive mood used for?

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Answer

The subjunctive mood is used to express wishes, suggestions or obligations relating to hypothetical situations or situations that have not happened yet.

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Question

What is the interrogative mood used for?

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Answer

The interrogative mood is used to ask questions or gain information.

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Question

What is the indicative mood used for?

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Answer

The indicative mood is used to state a fact or something that is believed to be factual.

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Question

What is the imperative mood used for?

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Answer

The imperative mood is used to give instructions or commands, or to make a request.

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Question

What is the conditional mood used for?

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Answer

The conditional mood is used to express situations that rely on certain conditions.

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Question

Name two additional grammatical moods.

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Answer

The optative and potential moods

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Question

What are the additional grammatical moods called?

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Answer

The optative and the potential.

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Question

What is the potential mood used for?

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Answer

The potential mood is used to demonstrate how the writer or speaker believes something is likely to happen.

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Question

What is the optative mood used for?

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Answer

The optative mood is used to express wishes, desires, hopes, or curses. 

Show question

Question

Give four examples of modal verbs.

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Answer

Any of the below choices:

  • would
  • could
  • should
  • may
  • might
  • can
  • will

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Question

Which of these structures is often used in the optative mood?

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Answer

'Let us'

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Question

What mood commonly uses the 'if only' structure?

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Answer

The optative mood

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Question

Which language uses the optative mood more?

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Answer

Greek

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Question

Which of these is not a grammatical mood?

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Answer

Informal

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Question

Which word type can affect a sentence's grammatical mood?

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Answer

Verb

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Question

What are the five main grammatical moods in English?

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Answer

Indicative mood, interrogative mood, imperative mood, conditional mood, and subjunctive mood.

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Question

What is another term for 'auxiliary verb'?

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Answer

A helping verb. Auxiliary verbs can help form the mood of a sentence.

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Question

Which mood is this sentence in?

'If I were a millionaire, I would buy a big house.'

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Answer

Subjunctive mood.

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Question

Which mood is this sentence in?

'Are you on your way?'


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Answer

Interrogative mood.

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Question

Which mood is this sentence in?

'If you get here quick, I'll save you a seat.'


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Answer

Conditional mood.

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Question

Which mood is this sentence in?

'Stop!'

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Answer

Imperative mood.

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Question

Which mood is this sentence in?

'He wasn't there yesterday.'

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Answer

Indicative mood.

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Question

When using the subjunctive mood to express a wish, which sentence is correct?

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Answer

I wish I were rich.

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Question

When using the subjunctive mood to give a demand, which sentence is correct?

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Answer

I demand he sit.

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Question

Which mood is used to give instructions?

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Answer

The imperative mood.

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Question

Which mood is used to ask questions?

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Answer

The interrogative mood.

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Question

Which mood is used to state a fact?

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Answer

The indicative mood.

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Question

Which mood is used to discuss a hypothetical situation?

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Answer

The subjunctive mood.

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Question

Which mood is used to discuss the conditions under which an event can take place?

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Answer

The conditional mood.

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Question

Which two moods are often used together?

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Answer

The conditional and subjunctive mood.

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Question

What does hypothetical mean?

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Answer

A situation or idea based on made-up or potentially possible situations, rather than real ones.

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Question

The potential mood is used to express what?

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Answer

Possibility and potential.

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Question

What are modal verbs?

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Answer

Auxiliary verbs which are used to express modalities, such as permission, probability, ability, obligation, and intentions.

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Question

How do we form the potential mood?

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Answer

With a modal verb followed by an infinitive verb without 'to'.

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Question

When do we use the potential mood?

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Answer

When we believe there is a possibility that what is being discussed will happen.

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Question

In the following sentence, which word is the modal verb?
'She could go to university if she wished.'

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Answer

Could

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Question

In the following sentence, which word is the modal verb?
'Yes, he may come in.'

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Answer

May

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Question

In the following sentence, which word is the modal verb?
'You must stay for dinner!'


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Answer

Must

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Question

In the following sentence, what modality is being expressed?

'I would love to come to your wedding!'

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Answer

Willingness

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Question

In the following sentence, what modality is being expressed?
'I can see them anytime I want.'

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Answer

Power

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Question

In the following sentence, what modality is being expressed?

'You must be at 10.'


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Answer

Obligation 

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Question

The subjunctive is a grammatical tense. True or false?

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Answer

False

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Question

The subjunctive is a grammatical mood. True or false?

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Answer

True

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Question

The subjunctive is a grammatical aspect. True or false?

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Answer

False

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Question

Grammatical mood refers to the use of ________ to show how the sentence should be understood. Fill in the blanks. 

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Answer

Verbs

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Question

Grammatical mood indicates the purpose of a sentence and how it should be perceived by the reader/listener. True or false?

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Answer

True

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Question

Grammatical mood shows whether the sentence is in the past, present, or future. True or false?

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Answer

False

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Question

How many main types of grammatical mood are there?

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Answer

5

Show question

Question

What does the subjunctive mood express?

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Answer

A wish, obligation, suggestion, or hypothetical situation.

Show question

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