What Kind of Mood Are You In?

In addition to tenses, English verbs are divided into moods, which show the writer's attitude toward what he or she is saying. The first two moods, indicative and imperative, aren't confusing at all, and, fortunately, they're used far more frequently than the third mood, subjunctive.

Almost all verbs are used in the indicative mood, which means that the verb's sentence states a fact or an actuality. All of these sentences are in the indicative mood:

I'll be seeing you later on tonight. Wear whatever you want. You look nice in anything. We're all casual dressers, so don't worry about your attire.

Verbs used in the imperative mood are in sentences that make requests or give a command. All of these sentences are in the imperative mood:

Please give me the phone.

Give it to me right now!

Give it to me — or else!

The subjunctive mood is the one that speakers and writers sometimes have problems with. Fortunately, it's used with only two verbs (be and were), and in modern English, it's used in only two kinds of sentences:

<tgroup cols="1" align="center"> <colspec colnum="1" colname="col1" colwidth="100%" colsep="0" rowsep="1" align="left"/> <tbody> <tr> <td> <ul> <li><p>statements that are contrary to fact (providing they begin with if or unless), improbable, or doubtful</p></li> <li><p>statements that express a wish, a request or recommendation, an urgent appeal, or a demand</p></li> </ul> </td> </tr> </tbody> </tgroup> </table> <p>The following are verb forms used in the subjunctive mood:</p> <table width="100%" frame="none"> <h2>Present Subjunctive</h2> <tgroup cols="2" align="center"> <colspec colnum="1" colname="col1" colwidth="50%" colsep="0" rowsep="1" align="left"/> <colspec colnum="2" colname="col2" colwidth="50%" colsep="0" rowsep="1" align="left"/> <thead> <tr> <td><p>Singular</p></td> <td><p>Plural</p></td> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td><p>(if) I be</p></td> <td><p>(if) we be</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>(if) you be</p></td> <td><p>(if) you be</p></td> </tr> <tr><td><p>(if) he/she/it be</p></td> <td><p>(if)they be</p></td> </tr> </tbody> </tgroup> </table> <table width="100%" frame="none"> <h2>Past Subjunctive</h2> <tgroup cols="2" align="center"> <colspec colnum="1" colname="col1" colwidth="50%" colsep="0" rowsep="1" align="left"/> <colspec colnum="2" colname="col2" colwidth="50%" colsep="0" rowsep="1" align="left"/> <thead> <tr> <td><p>Singular</p></td> <td><p>Plural</p></td> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td><p>(if) I were</p></td> <td><p>(if) we were</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>(if) you were</p></td> <td><p>(if) you were</p></td> </tr> <tr> <td><p>(if) he/she/it were</p></td> <td><p>(if) they were</p></td> </tr> </tbody> </tgroup> </table> <p>Here is an example:</p> <div class="npsb"> <p><emphasis>It's important that everybody be [<emphasis>not</emphasis> is] at the meeting</emphasis>.</p> </div> <p>This is a wish or request — a strong request, at that.</p> <div class="npsb"> <h2></h2> <p>After you've studied the forms of subjunctive mood, try the interactive quizzes at these Web sites:</p> <table width="100%" frame="none"> <title/> <tgroup cols="1" align="center"> <colspec colnum="1" colname="col1" colwidth="100%" colsep="0" rowsep="1" align="left"/> <tbody> <tr> <td><p><emphasis>tinyurl.com/oh3hd</emphasis></p></td> <td><p><emphasis>tinyurl.com/39rnf3</emphasis></p></td> </tr> </tbody> </tgroup> </table> </div> <!--/gc--> <div id="pagination"><ul><li class="prev"><a href="http://www.netplaces.com/grammar/figuring-out-some-finicky-forms/those-irritating-irregular-verbs.htm" title="Those Irritating Irregular Verbs">Those Irritating Irregular Verbs</a></li><li class="next"><a href="http://www.netplaces.com/grammar/figuring-out-some-finicky-forms/comparatively-speaking.htm" title="Comparatively Speaking">Comparatively Speaking</a> </li></ul></div></div> <div id="coda"> <div id="rel"><div class="n5">Related Articles</div><ul> <li><a href="http://www.netplaces.com/grammar/figuring-out-some-finicky-forms/what-kind-of-mood-are-you-in.htm" 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