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    Grammatical Mood in English

    Grammatical Mood in English

    Grammatical mood is defined as a set of distinctive verb forms that express modality. Modality is the grammaticalized expression of the subjective attitude of the speaker, which includes opinions about possibility, probability, necessity, obligation, permissibility, ability, desire, and contingency. Although modality in English is often expressed through modal verbs, the English language also has three grammatical moods:

    • Indicative mood
    • Subjunctive mood
    • Imperative mood

    Indicative Mood

    The first grammatical mood in English is the indicative mood. The indicative mood allows speakers to form sentences that express assertions, denials, and questions of actuality or strong probability. For example, the following sentences are examples of the English indicative:

    • Coal mining is a major industry of Appalachia.
    • Jean Baptiste Pointe DuSable came to Illinois via the Mississippi River.
    • We still need someone to buy ingredients for the punch.
    • Do you know where the old man lives?
    • How much wood does a woodchuck chuck?
    • Has the train arrived?

    The indicative mood is the most frequently used grammatical mood in the English language. The majority of sentences, at least in written English, are in the indicative mood.

    Subjunctive Mood

    The second grammatical mood in English is the subjunctive mood. The subjunctive mood allows speakers to form sentences that express commands, requests, suggestions, wishes, hypotheses, purposes, doubts, and suppositions that are contrary to fact at the time of the utterance. For example, the following sentences are examples of the English subjunctive:

    • It is recommended that you be on time.
    • He will let us know if he can arrive early.
    • If I were a rich man, then I would have all the money in the world.
    • My boss insists that the computer be repaired by a licensed contractor.
    • They wish we were able to type faster.
    • Had the man been driving carefully, he would not have crashed into the tree.

    The subjunctive mood is only distinguishable from the indicative mood third person singular present subjunctive and in most persons and numbers that require a conjugated form of the verb to be. However, native speakers often use indicative forms in place of subjunctive forms.

    Imperative Mood

    The third grammatical mood in English is the imperative mood. The imperative mood allows speakers to form sentences that make direct commands, express requests, and grant or deny permission. For example, the following sentences are examples of the English imperative:

    • Dance like you’ve never danced before!
    • Stop at the corner.
    • Turn right at the courthouse.
    • Eat your vegetables!
    • Party like it’s 1999.
    • Swallow the entire does of medicine.

    The imperative mood is also the most frequently used mood in the English language. Both written and spoken commands, directions, and recipes all take the imperative mood of English verbs.

    Verb mood is defined as a set of distinctive verb forms that express modality, which is the grammaticalized expression of the subjective attitude of the speaker, which includes opinions about possibility, probability, necessity, obligation, permissibility, ability, desire, and contingency. Both native speakers and English language learners must learn the three grammatical moods in English—indicative, subjunctive, and imperative—in order to communicate effectively and fully in the English language.

    Summary

    Grammatical mood is defined as a set of distinctive verb forms that express modality.

    In the English language, verbs express grammatical mood.

    The three moods in English are the indicative mood, subjunctive mood, and imperative mood.

    References

    Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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