- Understand imperative, indicative, and subjunctive verb moods.
- Revise passages with inconsistent verb moods.
- Write passages using uniform verb mood.
The mood of a verb can be imperative, indicative, or subjunctive. Although those three words might make mood sound somewhat complicated, in reality you are likely quite familiar with the different moods. Study this table for clarification.
The subject is understood to be the reader and is not given in the sentence.
Imperative sentences include the following:
|Indicative (or declarative)||
Indicative sentences include the following:
Present-tense verbs remain in the base form rather than changing to match the number or person of the subject. Past-tense verbs are the same as simple past tense.
Exception: The verb “to be” uses “were” in all situations.
Subjunctive sentences include the following:
[past tense] If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it.
Problems with mood occur when the mood shifts within a sentence, as shown in the following table. In the table, the revisions were all made to match the mood that the sentence initially used. You could also choose to make different revisions that are equally acceptable.
|Verb Moods||Problem Shifts||Revisions|
|Started with imperative and switched to subjunctive||Control your schedule, and I’d choose the number of hours I need for homework before talking to anyone about weekend plans.||Control your schedule and choose the number of hours you need for homework before talking to anyone about weekend plans.|
|Started with indicative and switched to imperative||People don’t think for themselves and stop being so wishy-washy.||Think for yourself and stop being so wishy-washy.|
|Started with subjunctive and switched to imperative||It matters that you be in charge of your success and you should stop blaming others.||It matters that you be in charge of your success and stop blaming others.|
The sentence style sections are all adapted from “Chapter Sixteen” of Writers’ Handbook, 2012, used according to creative commons 3.0 cc-by-nc-sa