Verb Mood

French verb mood
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Les modes du verbe

Verb mood is all about the ‘tude; that is, the speaker’s attitude about the verb, whether it’s a fact, an opinion, a command, or a possibility.

French has a total of six verb moods: two impersonal and four personal.

Impersonal moods – Modes impersonnels

Grammatically speaking, impersonal means unrelated to a subject: there is only one form of the verb for all grammatical persons.

Infinitive Infinitif Nominal verb form – the name of the verb as well as its noun form être to be
Participle Participe Adjectival verb form étant being

Personal moods – Modes personnels

Personal moods have a different conjugation for each grammatical person.

Conditional Conditionnel Condition or possibility tu serais you would be
Imperative Impératif Command sois be
Indicative Indicatif Indication of a fact – this is the most common, "normal" mood* tu es you are
Subjunctive Subjonctif Subjectivity, doubt, or impossibility que tu sois that you be

  Mood vs Tense

Mood is about attitude, Tense is about time.

  • There are three Tenses: present, past, and future, so these tell you when something happens.
  • In comparison, Mood indicates how the speaker feels about what’s happening: is it a fact? a supposition? a command? a possibility?

Every verb form has Tense and Mood – they work together, as you can see in my French verb timeline.

  * Hint: when the mood is not stated explicitly, for example passé composé, it’s the indicative mood.

 Related lessons

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French verb mood
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