Writers Workshop: Writer Resources
Grammar Handbook: Verb Mood
Verbs may be in one of three moods: indicative, imperative, or subjunctive. The indicative mood is used to make factual statements. The imperative mood makes a request or a command. The subjunctive mood can express a doubt or a wish using clauses beginning with "if" or "that"; it can also express a request, demand, or proposal in a clause beginning with "that."
- Present indicative: Jerry Seinfeld laughs on television.
- Past indicative: Jerry laughed on television.
- Future indicative: Jerry will laugh on television tomorrow.
- Notice how much sharper the picture appears.
- Call her tomorrow.
- Take a seat!
- He talks about grammar as if he were an expert. (Expresses doubt or an idea contrary to fact.)
- I wish that I were a fast runner. (Expresses a wish.)
- The professor requests that the paper be turned in on time. (Expresses a request.)
- The rules require that each contestant submit an entry form. (Expresses a demand.)
- I suggest that the heat be reduced. (Illustrates a proposal.)
Auxiliary verbs "could," "would," and "should" might also express the subjunctive mood, especially when one expresses a condition contrary to fact.
|Past subjunctive||Condition contrary to fact|
|If the forecaster were correct, I would be prepared.
||If the forecaster could be correct, I would be prepared.|
|If the company were to fly her, she would interview.
||If the company would fly her, she would interview.|
|If Joe were to marry Ann, he would be happy.
||If Joe should marry Ann, he would be happy.|
Verbs that are often followed by "that" clauses with subjunctive verbs: announce, ask, as if, as though, demand, determine, indicate, insist, move, order, prefer, propose, recommend, request, require, and suggest.