This is “Managing Mood”, section 16.6 from the book Writers' Handbook (v. 1.0).
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The mood of a verb can be imperativeSentence format in which the subject is understood to be the reader and the sentence gives a command, makes a request, or gives advice., indicativeSentence format that presents statements, facts, opinions, and questions., or subjunctiveSentence format using base form of present tense verbs, simple past form for past tense verbs, and “were” for all forms of the verb “to be” to relay wishes, recommendations, doubts, and contrary-to statements.. Although those three words might make mood sound somewhat complicated, in reality you are likely quite familiar with the different moods. Study this table for clarification.
The subject is understood to be the reader and is not given in the sentence.
Imperative sentences include the following:
|Indicative (or declarative)||
Indicative sentences include the following:
Present-tense verbs remain in the base form rather than changing to match the number or person of the subject. Past-tense verbs are the same as simple past tense.
Exception: The verb “to be” uses “were” in all situations.
Subjunctive sentences include the following:
Problems with mood occur when the mood shifts within a sentence, as shown in the following table. In the table, the revisions were all made to match the mood that the sentence initially used. You could also choose to make different revisions that are equally acceptable.
|Verb Moods||Problem Shifts||Revisions|
|Started with imperative and switched to subjunctive||Control your schedule, and I’d choose the number of hours I need for homework before talking to anyone about weekend plans.||Control your schedule and choose the number of hours you need for homework before talking to anyone about weekend plans.|
|Started with indicative and switched to imperative||People don’t think for themselves and stop being so wishy-washy.||Think for yourself and stop being so wishy-washy.|
|Started with subjunctive and switched to imperative||It matters that you be in charge of your success and you should stop blaming others.||It matters that you be in charge of your success and stop blaming others.|
The following passage has inconsistent verb moods. Identify the existing verb moods as imperative, indicative, and/or imperative. Then revise the passage so that it has consistent verb moods.
Don’t go to the party on Friday night. If I were you, I’d spend Friday in the library and go to the big party on Saturday. Physics majors need to stay focused.