1. Education
Send to a Friend via Email

mood (grammar)


mood (grammar)

The three major moods in English grammar


In grammar, the quality of a verb that conveys the writer's attitude toward a subject.

There are three major moods in English: (1) the indicative mood is used to make factual statements or pose questions, (2) the imperative mood to express a request or command, and (3) the (rarely used) subjunctive mood to show a wish, doubt, or anything else contrary to fact.

For the literary and rhetorical concept of mood, see Mood (Composition and Literature).

See also:

Examples and Observations:

  • indicative mood
    "Life is full of misery, loneliness, and suffering--and it's all over much too soon."
    (Woody Allen)

  • imperative mood
    "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."
    (President John F. Kennedy)

  • subjunctive mood
    "If I were rich, I'd have the time that I lack
    To sit in the synagogue and pray."
    (from Fiddler on the Roof)

  • Minor Moods in English
    "[In addition to the three major moods of English] there are also minor moods, exemplified by the following examples:

    • Tag declarative
      You've been drinking again, haven't you.
    • Tag imperative
      Leave the room, will you!
    • Pseudo-imperative
      Move and I'll shoot!
      Move or I'll shoot!
    • Alternative questions
      Does John resemble his father or his mother? (with rising intonation on father and falling intonation on mother
    • Exclamative
      What a nice day!
    • Optative
      May he rest in peace.
    • "One more" sentence
      One more beer and I'll leave.
    • Curse
      You pig, bag of wind, . . .!
    The distinction between major and minor mood is not clear-cut, but intuitively minor moods (1) are highly restricted in their productivity, (2) are peripheral to communication, (3) are probably low in their relative frequency of occurrence, and (4) vary widely across languages."
    (A. Akmajian, R. Demers, A. Farmer, and R. Harnish, Linguistics: An Introduction to Language and Communication. MIT Press, 2001)
Pronunciation: mood
Also Known As: mode
  1. About.com
  2. Education
  3. Grammar & Composition
  4. Grammar & Rhetoric Glossary
  5. Main Clause - Oxymoron
  6. mood (grammar) - definition and examples of grammatical mood

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.