mood

mood or mode, in verb inflection, the forms of a verb that indicate its manner of doing or being. In English the forms are called indicative (for direct statement or question or to express an uncertain condition, e.g., If they do not send it, we cannot go ), imperative (for commands), and subjunctive (for sentences suggesting doubt, condition, or a situation contrary to fact, e.g., If I were king … , or He asked that it be done ). The infinitive (nonpersonal, generalizing) is sometimes considered an example of mood, as are phrases formed with the auxiliaries may, might, can, and could (termed the potential mood); should and would (conditional); and must and ought (obligative). These names of moods are often used for similar categories in other languages, and many languages are far richer in analogous patterns than Romance languages; moods commonly found in other languages are narrative, quotative, mythical, desiderative, optative, and negative. In standard English the verb to be has special modal inflections.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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