Verb’s mood isn’t about how the verb is feeling—whether it’s sad or gloomy or happy or confused. But in a way, it’s not all that different. Any complete thought that you can convey possesses mood, also referred to as “voice,” whether it is by what you say, how you say it, or under what circumstances you say it. When talking about the mood of an expression, you are focusing on the speaker’s motivation in stating something in a particular way.
The moods that you will encounter in Spanish fall under three general categories.
1. Indicative Mood
Also known as the active voice, the indicative is the mood with which you express “what is” in an objective manner—by using facts, observations, and narration. You can argue (and many would probably agree) that no observation can be objective. This poses no problem in using the indicative; the use of this mood does not depend on truth so much as it depends on the speaker’s motivation to lend authority to his or her statements. In a sense, you can say that it is the truth as she sees it and/or wishes to convince others to see it.
2. Imperative Mood
With the imperative, you express actions as commands, warnings, and requests. Keep in mind that there are no imperious overtones with respect to a command. Also, in Spanish, a command and a request are not opposites but actually equivalent. The same structure underlies both; the difference lies in the situation and the tone of voice that you employ. Learn more about the imperative.
3. Subjunctive Mood
By using the subjunctive, you are expressing “what might be” or “what ought to be”. This mood is contrary to the indicative in that it allows expression that is more apparently subjective. As such, it may express doubt, desire, emotion, impersonal opinion, or uncertainty. Native Spanish speakers employ the subjunctive naturally, so much so that it may become a holy grail of sorts for you to master after you become fairly proficient in the language. Learn more about the subjunctive.
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