Indicative Mood

The indicative mood is like the trusty old friend of English grammar. It's the one we turn to when we want to make a statement or ask a question. Just like that reliable friend who's always there for you, the indicative mood is the foundation of communication and helps us convey our thoughts and ideas in a clear and straightforward way.

Indicative Mood Indicative Mood

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    • Cheetahs are the fastest land animal on Earth.
    • My favourite food is a margarita pizza.
    • I will go for dinner with my friend tonight.

    Each of these sentences is a statement, stating a fact or opinion that we assume to be true. But how exactly do we know that these sentences are statements rather than a question, exclamation, command, or condition? This is all thanks to something called 'grammatical mood'.

    Indicative mood: grammatical mood

    When we talk about 'mood' in English Grammar, we're not talking about our emotions or feelings. Instead, grammatical mood refers to the use of verb forms that indicate (show) the purpose of a sentence, such as whether it's a statement, question, command, etc.

    Types and examples of grammatical mood

    There are five main types of grammatical mood in English Language:

    • The Indicative Mood- stating a fact or belief, e.g. 'Baby flamingos are born grey rather than pink'.
    • The Imperative Mood- making requests or commands, e.g. 'Come over and sit by me!'.
    • The Subjunctive Mood- expressing a hypothetical situation, wish, possibility, or suggestion, e.g. 'If I were famous, I'd have my own talk show'.
    • The Interrogative Mood- asking questions, e.g. 'Where have my glasses gone?'.
    • The Conditional Mood- state conditions and make requests, e.g. 'If the restaurant doesn't have steak, I'll get a burger instead'.

    Other languages use different grammatical moods, which they express in different ways.

    Indicative mood meaning

    So what exactly is the indicative mood?

    The indicative mood is the use of verb forms to show that a sentence is a statement. It indicates something that is assumed to be true such as facts, opinions, or fact-checking questions.

    Most sentences in the English Language are written or spoken in the indicative mood.

    Indicative mood chalk drawing of man speaking StudySmarterFig. 1 - The indicative mood states facts, opinions, or face-checking questions.

    Indicative mood examples

    Examples of the indicative mood include:

    It's way too hot in here. (opinion)

    He bought her flowers for their anniversary. (fact) It was so cute. (opinion)

    You finish school next year, yes? (fact-checking question)

    Maya wants to come with us to the farm later. (fact)

    If I could, I would play football more in the evening. (fact)

    Chloe prefers cats to dogs. (fact)

    Horses are the best though! (opinion)

    You're not keen on pizza, right? (fact-checking question)

    Each of these sentences is a statement that expresses either a fact, an opinion, or a statement that checks an assumed fact (often using tag questions such as 'right?' or 'yes?').

    Indicative mood: verbs

    The indicative mood is the most basic mood of verbs that we use when forming declarative sentences. We can use the indicative mood in any tense.

    How do we form the indicative mood?

    So how do we recognise a sentence in the indicative mood?

    Statement sentences always contain a subject (person/thing doing the action) and a verb. This verb is generally the basic form of the verb (e.g. 'play', 'dance', 'drive') which can be changed according to tense (e.g. 'Sarah played', 'John will drive'), number, or person ('I dance', 'he dances').

    Notice how the inflection -ed is added to the base form of the verb to show tense whilst the inflection -s is added to show person.

    Punctuation

    A sentence in the indicative mood often ends in a full stop as it simply states a fact or an opinion. However, sentences may end in question marks if they are fact-checking questions (e.g. 'you don't like cheese, right?) or exclamation marks for emphasis (e.g. 'cheese is the worst thing ever!').

    Indicative mood vs subjective mood

    Another type of grammatical mood is called the 'subjunctive mood'. This refers to the use of verb forms to express a wish, obligation, possibility, or suggestion. It often refers to a hypothetical situation which is an event that has not yet happened and may never happen; it is imagined.

    'Sam wishes she were in Bali right now' (expressing a wish)

    'It is essential that you all come to the meeting later' (expressing an obligation)

    'If I save lots of money, I could buy a new car' (expressing a possibility)

    'It is recommended that you practice before the show' (expressing a suggestion)

    All of these sentences express hypothetical situations that have not yet occurred and are not guaranteed to occur.

    The subjunctive mood is different to the indicative mood as the indicative mood is used to make statements that are assumed to be true. In contrast, the subjunctive mood refers to hypothetical situations that have not yet occurred.

    For example, in the indicative mood we would say 'Sean has played golf all day' as this is a factual statement. However, in the subjunctive mood we may say 'Sean wishes he were playing golf' as it is a hypothetical situation that has not yet occurred.

    Indicative Mood - Key Takeaways

    • Grammatical mood refers to the use of verb forms which show the purpose of a sentence and how it should be understood.
    • There are five main types of mood in the English language: indicative (fact or belief), imperative (requests or commands), subjunctive (hypothetical situation, wish, possibility, suggestion), interrogative (questions), conditional (conditions or requests).

    • The indicative mood is the use of verb forms to show that a sentence is a statement. It indicates something that is assumed to be true such as facts, opinions, or fact-checking questions.

    • We recognise the indicative mood from the basic form of the verb which can be changed according to tense, person, or number.

    • We use the indicative mood to form declarative sentences.

    Frequently Asked Questions about Indicative Mood

    What does indicative mood mean?

    The indicative mood is the use of verb forms to show that a sentence is a statement. It indicates something that is assumed to be true such as facts, opinions, or fact-checking questions.

    Can indicative mood be a question?

    The indicative mood can be a fact-checking question. We may state something we assume to be true and add a tag question e.g. 'you're coming to France in summer, right?'. The statement 'you're coming to France in summer' is stated as an assumed fact which is then checked using the tag question 'right?'.

    What is the difference between subjunctive and indicative mood?

    The subjunctive mood is different to the indicative mood as the indicative mood is used to make statements that are assumed to be true whereas the subjunctive mood refers to hypothetical situations that have not yet occurred. 

    What is an example of an indicative mood?

    Examples of the indicative mood include:

    • It's way too hot in here. (opinion)
    • He bought her flowers for their anniversary. (fact) It was so cute. (opinion)
    • You finish school next year, yes? (fact-checking question) 

    Is indicative mood a command?

    The indicative mood does not make commands, it states a fact or opinion that is assumed to be true. It is the imperative mood that makes command such as 'come here!' or 'please take a seat'.

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    The indicative mood is used for hypothetical situations. True or false?

    The indicative mood is used when a something is assumed to be true such as facts, opinions, or fact-checking questions. True or false?

    Most sentences in the English Language are written or spoken in the indicative mood. True or false?

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