Mood in Verbs: What Is Verb Mood? Definition and Types (Examples)

By Carly Forsaith, updated on April 28, 2023

Are you interested in learning about verb mood? Would you like to know what it is and how to use it? Then you've come to the right place. In this article, we'll cover all five verb moods.

In short, a verb's mood gives information about the type of sentence it is so that you can know the intention of the speaker/writer.

This guide is part of our free online Grammar Book.

What is Verb Mood?

With a name like 'mood,' you might think that the verb mood communicates emotion or feelings. But that's not the case. Verb mood tells us what type of sentence it is, which tells us about the speaker's intention when saying it. Are they giving us an order? Making a request? Expressing a wish?

There are three verb moods that everybody agrees on:

  • subjunctive
  • imperative
  • indicative

And there are two more that you'll find listed in some sources but not others:

  • interrogative
  • conditional

To cover all bases, we'll learn about all five moods in this article. Let's dive in.

Indicative Verb Mood

The indicative mood is pretty much the most basic kind of sentence since it has no discerning features; it simply states a fact. Therefore having a verb in the indicative mood means expressing an action or state of being as fact.

You use the indicative mood in most sentences.

Here are some examples of sentences in the indicative mood:

I want to sell my house.

She learns piano twice a week.

They are coming here at 7 pm.

Imperative Verb Mood

The imperative is used for making requests or giving orders or prohibitions. When someone speaks to you in an imperative mood, you'll be able to detect a somewhat authoritative tone.

What's fun about imperative sentences is that they don't contain a personal pronoun. The pronoun is always 'you,' and it is implied, so you don't need to say it.

A verb in the imperative mood is formed using the infinitive form of the verb.

Please arrive no later than 12 pm.

Sit down.

Write your name at the top of the page.


We use the subjunctive mood to talk about hypothetical situations. So that could be a wish, a suggestion, a desire, a demand, or to reflect on what you might do in a certain situation - say, for instance, if you won the lottery.

Usually, sentences in the subjunctive mood contain two clauses: one that contains a verb in the indicative mood and one with a verb in the subjunctive mood. For example:

I wish that you would pay more attention.

In the sentence above, the first clause's verb is 'wish' and is in the indicative mood. The second clause's verb is 'would' and is in the subjunctive mood. Also, the second clause often begins with 'that.'

Due to the hypothetical or imagined nature of subjunctive sentences, the indicative mood verbs tend to be verbs such as:

  • suggest
  • wish
  • require
  • recommend
  • insist

There are two subjunctive tenses: the present and the past.

Present Subjunctive

The present subjunctive is to discuss a present or future hypothetical situation, like giving someone advice, giving commands, making requests, or statements of necessity. To form it, you use the infinitive form of the verb. Therefore there's no subject-verb agreement, which makes it a very strange form.

She suggested that I write them a letter of complaint.

Starting from next week we're going to require that people take their shoes off at the entrance.

I recommend that you finish high school first and worry about that other stuff later.

Past Subjunctive

The past subjunctive is used to discuss things you wish were true, or that would be possible but that aren't real yet. To form it, you use the past indefinite tense.

Though it is called the past subjunctive, don't let that fool you. It can refer to situations in the past, present, and future.

I wish I lived in a hot country.

It's time we finally had that conversation.

We would prefer it if you didn't see him anymore.

Conditional Verb Mood

The conditional tense is often confused with the subjunctive and in fact, many people claim the conditional isn't an actual mood, because the subjunctive pretty much covers it.

However, you could argue that the conditional goes one step further.

Whether or not you believe the conditional deserves a separate mention, you can decide for yourself once you've read this section.

Conditional sentences always contain the conjunction 'if' (or sometimes 'when'), and they contain two clauses. There are four types of conditional:

  • Zero conditional
  • First conditional
  • Second conditional
  • Third conditional

One thing these all have in common is that a conditional sentence always has a condition. This mood is used to talk about possible scenarios and their consequences. So there's always an 'if' clause and a consequence clause.

Zero Conditional

This type of conditional is used to talk about what always happens as a result of a real circumstance.

It's formed using the present indefinite in the 'if' clause and the present indefinite in the consequence clause.

Because we aren't talking about hypothetical situations here, you can often replace the 'if' with 'when.'

If you forget to drink water, you get dehydrated.

The 'if' clause is 'if you forget to drink water' and the consequence clause is 'you get dehydrated.' This is a universal truth that isn't dependent on circumstances, which is what makes it a zero conditional sentence.

Let's take a look at some more examples:

When Jimmy brings friends home, mom fixes them sandwiches.

If you cook a pizza for too long, it burns.

First Conditional

This type of conditional is used to talk about what you'll do or what will happen as the result of a hypothetical circumstance.

It's formed using the present indefinite in the 'if' clause and the future indefinite in the consequence clause.

If he is late we will just have to wait.

If it rains we will move the event indoors.

I'll be able to buy a house if I get a raise.

Second Conditional

This one is used to provide a probable consequence to an imaginary situation. So the 'if' clause is an imaginary one, and the consequence clause is what you believe would happen as a result.

It's formed using the past indefinite tense in the 'if' clause and 'might,' 'would,' or 'could.'

If I were rich, I would take all my friends and family on vacation.

She might have more friends if she were nicer.

I assure you that I could run a marathon if I wanted to.

Third Conditional

This type of conditional is used to talk about a possible consequence of a different reaction to a past event. Since the event is already past, the consequence will never happen and is, therefore, impossible. But you can use the third conditional to speculate on what you would have done or what could have happened had things been different.

It is formed using the past perfect in the 'if' clause and 'might/would/could have' + past participle in the result clause.

If you had applied for the job, you would have gotten it.

We could have avoided a dramatic situation if you'd just told me that from the beginning.

You might have succeeded if you had tried.


Our final mood is the interrogative. This one's pretty straightforward: it's used when asking a question. Some argue that the interrogative mood should be included in the indicative category.

You can tell when a sentence is interrogative due to the question mark but also the structure of the sentence.

To form the interrogative mood, use an auxiliary verb, then the sentence's subject, then the main verb. Having the auxiliary verb before the subject is a distinctive feature of an interrogative sentence since, in any other type of sentence, the subject would come first.

Does Sam sing in the choir too?

How are you feeling?

What do you do for a living?

Concluding Thoughts on Verb Mood

That concludes this article on verb mood. I hope you found it helpful. Let's take a moment to summarize what we've learned.

  • Verb mood tells us more about the sentence's purpose and the speaker's intention.
  • There are three agreed-upon moods in English grammar: indicative, imperative and subjunctive.
  • There are two contested moods: conditional and interrogative.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to continue your English grammar education, then our free online Grammar Book is perfect for you. Check it out!

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

Add new comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Newsletter
Receive information on
new articles posted, important topics, and tips.
Join Now
We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.