Difference Between Subjunctive and Indicative

Subjunctive vs Indicative

Subjunctive and indicative are two of the three moods a verb can have. There are many languages of the world (mostly Indo-European) where these moods of the verb matter a lot and have to be understood before one can hope to become proficient. Thus, verbs have not just tenses but also moods that may reflect a command, a reality, or a question. This article deals with subjunctive and indicative moods of verbs primarily to highlight their differences.

What is Subjunctive Mood?

Subjunctive is a mood of the verb that is hard to describe because of its rare use in English language at present times. However, a few centuries ago, subjunctive mood was in use and then slowly disappeared from the scene. Then this mood of the verb reflected a desire that was far away from reality. In modern times, subjunctive mood is hard to find, and it is better to understand it through the use of conditional mood of verbs such as might, would, and could. Any phrase that makes use of the conditional mood is very close in meaning to subjunctive mood. In short, it has to be remembered that subjunctive mood gives out wishes that are hypothetical and far away from reality. God Save the Queen is one example where save is the verb in the subjunctive mood.

What is Indicative Mood?

Most of the sentences in English have verbs in the indicative mood which is one of reality and stating a fact. This mood describes what happens, what is happening, or what has happened in the past. Indicative mood states the facts always. The boy jumped out of the door tells us a fact and lets us know what has happened. Thus, the verb jumped is in an indicative mood.

What is the difference between Subjunctive and Indicative?

• Indicative is a realis mood whereas subjunctive is irrealis mood.

• Indicative describes facts whereas subjunctive tells us desires or wishes.

• Subjunctive has more or less vanished from English language though it can be seen in many other Indo-European languages.

• Indicative is the most common of the verb moods.