Indicative Mood  

What is the indicative mood?

The indicative mood is a type of grammatical mood used to express facts, statements, opinions, or questions. It is the sole realis mood in English (as opposed to the irrealis moods).
This mood can be used in the past, present, or future tense and in a declarative sentence (i.e., a statement) or an interrogative sentence (i.e., a question). For example:
  • “She graduated last year with a doctorate in neuroscience.” (declarative sentence in the past indicative)
  • “He is taking his exam at the new testing center.” (declarative sentence in the present indicative)
  • Are you going to give your speech tomorrow?” (interrogative sentence in the future indicative)
The indicative mood covers a wide breadth of sentence structures and verb tenses, and it is more commonly used than the imperative and subjunctive moods (the two irrealis moods in English).

Function

Indicative-mood verbs function in many tenses and forms. The following sections contain explanations for and various examples of declarative and interrogative sentences in the past indicative, present indicative, and future indicative.

Past indicative

Verbs in the past indicative describe things that have happened or are believed to have happened at some point in the past.

Declarative sentences in the past indicative

In declarative sentences in the past indicative, the past simple tense and past perfect tense describe something that finished in the past, whereas the past continuous tense and past perfect continuous tense describe a continuous action originating in the past. For example:
  • “Verne left his house and headed to the airport.” (past simple tense)
  • “We had lived in Singapore for three years before returning to America.” (past perfect tense)
  • “She was looking online for a solution to her homework problem.” (past continuous tense)
  • “I had been studying philosophy at the time, but my real interest was in Japanese literature.” (past perfect continuous tense)

Interrogative sentences in the past indicative

Interrogative sentences in the past indicative may use the past tense to inquire about a past action or event. For example:
  • Did you finish the movie without me?” (past simple tense)
  • Had the candidate successfully completed the internship at the time?” (past perfect tense)
  • “Where were they training for their race?” (past continuous tense)
  • “Who had she been spending her time with when all this happened?” (past perfect continuous tense)

Present indicative

The present indicative describes things that are happening, are about to happen, or are believed to be happening.

Declarative sentences in the present indicative

In declarative sentences in the present indicative, the present simple tense and present continuous tense describe habits or things occurring in the present or near future, whereas the present perfect tense and present perfect continuous tense describe experiences or things originating in the past and continuing into the present. For example:
  • “She brings her own lunch to work every day.” (present simple tense)
  • “The cashier is counting the customer’s change.” (present continuous tense)
  • “I have visited every major theme park in the world.” (present perfect tense)
  • “They have been staying with my parents while the repairs are finished.” (present perfect continuous tense)

Interrogative sentences in the present indicative

Interrogative sentences in the present indicative may use the present tense to inquire about a current or closely occurring action or event. For example:
  • “What kinds of books do you normally read?” (present simple tense)
  • “What is Mae doing right now?” (present continuous tense)
  • Have you heard that new song on the radio yet?” (present perfect tense)
  • “Where have you been working these days?” (present perfect continuous tense)

Future indicative

The future indicative describes things that will happen or things that it is believed will happen. The future tense in English is not a unique verb inflection (in comparison to the present and past tenses), but is approximated using the form will or be going to + the main verb.

Declarative sentences in the future indicative

Declarative sentences in the future indicative use the future tense to describe things that will or are likely to occur at a future time. For example:

Interrogative sentences in the future indicative

Interrogative sentences in the future indicative use the future tense to inquire about a future action or event. For example:
  • Will they arrive on time?” (future simple tense)
  • “What are you going to write about for your thesis?” (future continuous tense)
Quiz

1. The indicative mood can be used to express which of the following?






2. Which of the following sentences uses the past indicative?





3. Which of the following sentences uses the present indicative?





4. Which of the following sentences uses the future indicative?





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