The Grammatical Concept of Mood
When you refer to “mood” in everyday conversation, you describe your attitude toward the events you are experiencing at the moment. The grammatical notion of mood applies to verbs, and it transmits the speakers’ attitudes toward what they are saying. In other words, your everyday mood and the grammatical notion of mood are similar in that they express your personal attitude toward what you are describing. In English and Russian, there are three grammatical moods: the indicative, the imperative, and the subjunctive/conditional.
Instead of using the subjunctive mood, Russian relies exclusively on conditional forms. In this book, we will explain the main functions of the English subjunctive and explore how these forms can be translated into appropriate Russian conditional forms.
So far nearly all of the verbs you have studied in this book have been in the indicative mood. This is because the main function of the indicative mood is to describe facts and events that are occurring now, will happen in the present, or took place in the past. Note in the following conversation that verbs in the indicative mood can be used in statements, questions, and exclamatory remarks with clear tense markers to indicate present, past, and future.
What are you doing now? – I am reading a book.
What were you doing yesterday? – First, I did homework and then I watched TV.
What will you do tomorrow? – I will go to the library and prepare for the history exam. - What a hardworking person you are!
The function of the imperative mood in English and in Russian is to express commands. Compare the following examples in Russian and English:
Speak louder, please,!
Quick, run home – your mom is looking for you!
is often placed before the verb, as illustrated in the previous example.
The subjunctive mood in English is used to describe hypothetical, unreal events. It is the mood of “wishful thinking” that is often used in conjunction with English conditional forms (“if I had money,” and “if he had told me in advance”). Refer to the following examples in English with their Russian translation to get a better understanding of how the subjunctive/conditional forms function in English and how they are rendered in Russian:
If I had money (conditional), I would have traveled to Brazil (subjunctive). (conditional).
I wish (indicative) you were here (subjunctive). (indicative).
If he had told me about his problem (conditional), I would have helped him (subjunctive). But he didn't (indicative). (indicative).