- The Indicative
- The Subjunctive
- The Conditional
- The Imperative
Grammatical moods, or les modes, are not the same as tenses. Instead of showing the time or period when something happened, they indicate the tone of the sentence and make the intentions of the speaking person clear. Unlike English, there are four moods in French.
Eat this. (Imperative)
This is the standard mood in French which expresses an action, event, or state that occurs in reality. All the eights French tenses are indicative.
Il mange une pomme.
He eats an apple.
Il a mangé une pomme.
He ate an apple.
The subjunctive mood is used for expressing wishes, suggestions, or desires, as well as uncertainty, feelings, or even advice. It's mostly used in subordinative clauses that start with que, for example:
Je veux que tu saches.
I want you to know.
This mood emphasizes the subjectivity of the sentence and focuses on the element of uncertainty. It's not an action that is happening. It's more of a type of state that occurs in your brain or soul.
This mood is probably the trickiest of them all. To learn more about it, visit our page dedicated to it.
This mood helps you show the possible outcomes related to a condition. If you want to talk about some acts, actions, or states that can happen under certain conditions, this is the mood you need.
Sentences in le conditionnel are usually translated using words "would" or "could", for example:
Il mangerait s'il avait faim.
He would eat if he were hungry.
Just like in English, the imperative mood allows you to give orders or advice. It only exists in second singular (tu), and first and second plural (nous&vous) persons. This mood is probably the simplest of them all - it's conjugated the same way as the present tense, but the subject pronouns are omitted.
Stop! (2nd plural)
Let's stop talking! (1st plural)
Stop! (2nd singular)
And now, to reinforce the knowledge that you've just got, take this short quiz - and choose the proper mood.