Punctuality Rules!

MM: Verbal Mood Swings

MM: Verbal Mood Swings


Last week, we spoke about verb tenses; today, let’s talk about their moods. Well, not their moods, exactly, but rather, our moods when using the verbs.

Indicative Mood

This is the most common, and is used to make a statement or ask a question.

  • The dog played with the ball.
  • Are you reading that newspaper?
  • The cook added a dash of pepper to the stew.

Imperative Mood

As imperious as the name implies, this mood is all about giving commands and making requests. Imperative verbs are always in the second person because, of course, requests or commands are always directed at someone else–if the word “you” isn’t used, it is always implied.

  • Give me that note!
  • Tell me what happened.
  • Please hold the door for me.

Subjunctive Mood

This is the verb mood you choose when you’re feeling wistful, wishful, or just floating ideas around, because Subjunctive verbs are used for expressing wishes, making hypothetical statements that aren’t true, or for expressing something that must or should happen. The words if, though. unless, lest, that are often used to demonstrate the subjunctive mood, as are the verbs be and were.

  • If wishes were horses, we would all ride.
  • If Mom had been in the room, I never would have cut off my ponytails.
  • I wish you were here.
  • I suggest you put down that knife before you hurt yourself.
  • You must be present for the deposition at court.

Clear enough? Questions? (I know, the Subjunctive mood could almost be an entire post by itself.)

5 thoughts on “MM: Verbal Mood Swings

  1. Nathan Egelhof

    Great topic! Verb tenses and moods are some of the most commonly debauched pieces of grammar by people today (at least as far as I’ve noticed). And I love the title 🙂

    I’m definitely a fan of the subjunctive mood: “If only I had been a doctor or a lawyer instead of a writer, I’d have money now.”

    Nathan Egelhof’s last blog post..An Unexpected Source of Love