The concept of grammatical mood

Cloud concept of mood

In Spanish, as in English, besides considering the concept of subject-verb agreement, a writer must consider the concept of grammatical mood, i.e., the attitude towards the information being presented, to select the adequate tense, i.e., the moment in time that an action, process, or state of being occurs.

According to section 25.2 of Nueva Gramática, modal information is either dependent or independent. Dependent modal information is brought about by inductors, which are words, such as verbs, adverbs, nouns, or prepositions, as well as punctuation, such as question marks, that provide the attitude, i.e. mood, of the writer towards what is being presented.  Independent modal information does not need these inductors, which can appear either in an independent clause or a subordinate clause, to induce the mood of the subordinate clause (1870-1875)[1].

The three different moods a writer can assume towards the information presented are the indicative, the subjunctive, and the imperative. Although independent clauses are usually written in the indicative mood, they may also be written in the subjunctive and imperative moods; subordinate clauses are written either in the indicative or subjunctive moods.

RAE’s Diccionario de la lengua española indicates that the indicative mood is used “to mark what is expressed by the predicate as information that is real”[2]. This mood is used in the present, imperfect, preterit, future, and conditional simple tenses as well as in the present perfect, pluperfect, past anterior, future perfect, and conditional perfect compound tenses, in the first person, second person, and third person.

RAE’s Diccionario de la lengua española indicates that the subjunctive mood is used “to mark what is expressed by the predicate as information that is virtual, unspecified, unverified, or not experienced”[2]. This mood is used in the present, imperfect, and future simple tenses as well as in the present perfect, pluperfect, and future perfect compound tenses in the first person, second person, and third person.

RAE’s Diccionario de la lengua española indicates that the imperative mood “mainly denotes orders, pleas, or appeals”[2]. This mood is used in the present tense, mostly in the singular and plural second person, but there are a couple of exceptions wherein the first person and the second person are used.

Verb tenses, which indicate the time an action, process, or state of being occurs, of the indicative and subjunctive moods are usually classified by their morphological structure, i.e., whether they are simple or compound. The only difference between these two classes is that simple verbs are one word, which is the conjugated verb, while compound verbs are two words, which are the conjugated form of the auxiliary verb haber and the past participle of the main verb.

In the following table, verb tenses of the indicative mood are classified as simple or compound.

Indicative mood

SIMPLECOMPOUND
Present
Presente
(CANTO)
Compound present perfect
Pretérito perfecto compuesto
(HE CANTADO)
Preterit
Pretérito perfecto simple
(CANTÉ)
Pluperfect
Pretérito pluscuamperfecto
(HABÍA CANTADO)
Imperfect
Pretérito imperfecto
(CANTABA)
Past anterior
Pretérito anterior
(HUBE CANTADO)
Future
Futuro simple
(CANTARÉ)
Compound future
Futuro compuesto
(HABRÉ CANTADO)
Conditional simple
Condicional simple
(CANTARÍA)
Compound conditional
Condicional compuesto
(HABRÍA CANTADO)

In the following table, verb tenses of the subjunctive mood are classified as simple or compound.

Subjunctive mood

SIMPLECOMPOUND
Present
Presente
(CANTE)
Compound present perfect
Pretérito perfecto compuesto
(HAYA CANTADO)
Imperfect
Pretérito imperfect
(CANTARA O CANTASE)
Pluperfect
Pretérito pluscuamperfecto
(HUBIERA O HUBIESE CANTADO)
Future
Futuro simple
(CANTARE)
Compound future
Futuro compuesto
(HUBIERE CANTADO)

References