A photograph of a lighted sign that reads: “Mood.”

Source: Mood, luce_beaulieu, Flickr

Hopefully you’re in the mood to learn about mood, the last feature of verbs in this lesson. The mood of a verb indicates whether the writer or speaker regards the action as a fact, command, wish, request, or a contradiction of fact. Consider the following moods:

It’s useful to know how to write wistfully, and the subjunctive mood can do just that. For instance, how would you complete the following?

If I were finished with high school tomorrow, I would . . .

A photograph of a high school graduating class seated in an auditorium. They are all wearing traditional graduation apparel.

Source: Graduates of Brunswick High in 2007, Chris Moncus, Wikimedia

You might have overlooked the verb “were,” a subjunctive form, in this sentence stem when you began imagining your college dorm room or your audition on The Voice. “If I were finished with high school tomorrow” is a wish contrary to fact. This wishful kind of grammar is for talking and writing about things as they might be or might have been, not as they are. The subjunctive mood also kicks in when you use the words like would, could, should, and if. Notice that our example has “would” in addition to “were.”

It’s important to think about voice, tense, and mood as you revise. Let’s face it; if you use the incorrect verb tense, it’s difficult to get a good grade; however, subtle revisions to your work such as changes to voice and mood make an OK essay into a very good one. You can bet that if you read carefully and revise according to the above suggestions, your mood will be lighter and your shoulders less tense. You will tell everyone in a loud voice that you received an A on your essay!