Indicative Mood | Examples, Definition & Use

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 moods
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”).

Indicative mood in different tenses
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.

Frequently asked questions about the 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 moods refer to how verbs are used to indicate the intention of a sentence or the speaker’s attitude toward what they are saying.

English has three grammatical moods:

  • Indicative mood is used for statements of fact, questions, or conditions.
  • Imperative mood is used to issue commands.
  • Subjunctive mood is used to describe unreal situations and to express wishes, desires, suggestions, obligations, and requests or demands.
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.

What is the difference between the subjunctive and indicative moods?

The subjunctive mood is used to express desires, wishes, suggestions, obligations, and demands or requests (e.g., “We ask that you turn off your cell phone”).

The indicative mood is used to make statements, ask questions, or describe conditions (e.g., “Piet seems nice”).

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Kayla Anderson Hewitt, MA

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.