Indicative Mood | Examples, Definition & Use

Verbs updated on  February 23, 2024 4 min read

The indicative mood is a verb form used to state facts or opinions or ask questions.

In English, there are three grammatical moods. The indicative mood is used far more frequently than the other two moods: the imperative and subjunctive.

Indicative mood sentence examples
Hannah ate the last donut.
Colin will go to the store on Tuesday.
I think skiing is too dangerous for children.
Are penguins a type of bird?

What is the indicative mood?

The grammatical mood of a sentence describes the attitude and intention of the speaker. In English, there are three possible grammatical moods: indicative, imperative, and subjunctive.

The indicative mood is by far the most commonly used mood and is used to state facts or opinions, ask questions, or express a condition.

Grammatical mood

Function

Example

Indicative State a fact or opinion


Express a condition


Ask a question
Nate lives in Los Angeles.

If you study, you will do well.

Where are you going?
Imperative Give a command or make a request Wait for me!
Subjunctive Describe a hypothetical scenario

Express a demand, suggestion, or wish
If I were you, I would quit.

I recommend that Kelsey leave.

How to use the indicative mood

All verbs in a sentence have both a mood and a tense. The mood indicates the speaker or writer’s intention, and the tense indicates the time of the action or event. The indicative mood can be used with any tense.

Likewise, any verb tense can be used for the various purposes of the indicative mood: stating a fact or opinion, expressing a condition, or asking a question. The indicative mood is also used in negative statements or questions (formed with adverbs such as “not” and “never”).

Verb tense

Indicative mood

Simple present

Joey is not prepared.

Present perfect

Has Cassandra visited Barcelona before?

Present progressive

If you are studying, I will join you.

Present perfect progressive

Niko has been running for one hour.

Simple past

I ate two eggs for breakfast.

Past perfect

He had trained for years before running a marathon.

Past progressive

Were you working when I called?

Past perfect progressive

I had been waiting for two hours when she arrived.

Simple future

It will not rain tomorrow.

Future perfect

Will the party have ended by the time I get off work?

Future progressive

If Jess will be eating with us, I will change our reservation.

Future perfect progressive

We will have been traveling for weeks by the time we get to Amsterdam.

Indicative vs imperative

The imperative mood is used to give a command or make a suggestion, while the indicative mood is used to state a fact or opinion or ask a question.

Indicative verbs are accompanied by an explicitly stated subject, but imperative verbs appear on their own. The subject, “you,” is implied.

The imperative form of most verbs (e.g., “walk”) is the same as the second-person present indicative form (e.g., “you walk”). The verb “be” is an exception; the infinitive form “be” is used in the imperative, while a conjugated form (“am,” “are,” “is,” etc.) is used in the indicative.

Indicative vs imperative examples
You walk quickly.
Do you walk quickly?
Walk quickly!

You are nice.
Are you nice?
Be nice.

Indicative vs subjunctive

The subjunctive mood is used to describe a hypothetical scenario or express a demand, suggestion, or wish. In English, the subjunctive mood is relatively uncommon. The indicative mood, which is used to express a fact or opinion or ask a question, is far more common.

The difference in verb form between the indicative and subjunctive is not always obvious. For example, when expressing unreal hypotheticals (e.g., “If I won the lottery”), the only verb that changes form in the subjunctive is “be.” It is always conjugated as “were” in the subjunctive (e.g., “If I were rich”).

When using the subjunctive mood to express a demand or suggestion, the verb is always in the infinitive form (e.g., “I demand that you be on time”).

Subjunctive verb examples

Indicative verb examples

If I had money, I would buy a car.

I had money.

If I were rich, I would buy a car.

I was rich.

I recommend that you study.

You study.

I recommend that she study.

She studies.

She requested that I be early.

I am early.

As you can see, the form of the verb does not always indicate what mood the sentence is in. Instead, you have to consider the intention of the sentence to determine the mood.

Do you want to know more about common mistakes, commonly confused words, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.


Common mistakes

Commonly confused words

Rhetoric

Whoa or woah

Advisor vs adviser

Metonymy

Theirs or their's

Accept vs except

Synecdoche

Ours or our's

Affect vs effect

Verbal irony

Forty or fourty

Among vs between

Irony

Sence or sense

Anymore vs any more

Grawlix


Frequently asked questions about indicative mood

Which mood is used to state facts or opinions?

The indicative mood is used to state facts or opinions and to ask questions (e.g., “Stella is an engineer,” “That is the cutest dog I’ve ever seen,” “Will you go with me?”). It is the most common grammatical mood in English and can be used with every verb tense.

What is a grammatical mood?

Grammatical mood refers to the verb form that is used to express the intention of a sentence. In English, there are three grammatical moods.

  • The indicative mood is used to state a fact or opinion or ask a question (e.g., “I walked to school today,” “Did Evan read the book?”).
  • The imperative mood is used to give a command or make a request (e.g., “Put your phone away”).
  • The subjunctive mood is used to express a hypothetical (e.g., “If I were rich”) or make a suggestion or demand (e.g., “I demand that she apologize”).

What is an indicative sentence?

An indicative sentence is a sentence that states a fact or opinion or asks a question (e.g., “I worked all day,” “Basketball is more fun than baseball,” “Do you like coffee?”).

The verbs of indicative sentences are considered to be in the indicative mood, which is the most common of the three moods in English: indicative, imperative, and subjunctive.

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Kayla Anderson Hewitt

Kayla has a master's degree in teaching English as a second language. She has taught university-level ESL and first-year composition courses. She also has 15 years of experience as an editor.

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