Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Brief Consideration of Mood

As I recently mentioned, it's high time we thought about mood and writing. Most resources recognize four basic moods: indicative, imperative, infinitive, and subjunctive. This post will offer an overview of each mood. The first two on that list won't need much explanation, but I'll do a separate post for each of the others, so if you don't find an answer to your questions here please be patient. In fact, share your questions with me and I'll make sure that I answer them in up-coming posts.

Indicative Mood

As its name implies, you use this straight-forward mood to indicate direct statements and questions to your readers. Thus, the indicative mood comprises the majority of communication, both written and spoken. Verb forms remain true to their names and what you've written can be taken at face value.

Imperative Mood

Delivering an imperative requires, surprisingly enough, the imperative mood. In essence, you use this mood when giving a commend or making a request for action. In many cases, the imperative mood leads to what appear to be sentence fragments, as the subject is often understood rather than stated. Don't make that mistake!

Infinitive Mood

The topic of infinitives covers a lot of ground, but you create the mood by using an infinitive (the “to” form of a verb) as other parts of speech than verbs, at least as I understand things at this point. “To believe is the most important consideration.” In this example, the act of believing does not occur. “To believe” acts as the subject of the sentence, thus putting it into the infinitive mood, which somehow sounds a bit dirty.

Subjunctive Mood

The subjunctive allows you to express a wish, to make a suggestion, or to otherwise address something that you know not to be the case, although it may well be a possible future or outcome. You clue your audience in on the fact that you're doing so by shifting the verb to a different form. Clearly this can lead to confusion in editing for tense agreement, and that requires more explanation. I'll return here and add a link to my next post when it's been completed.