What is a grammatical mood?

A couple of weeks ago I explained what a grammatical tense is and I alluded to the idea that there is also this thing called moods. That’s the topic of today’s lesson. In this post you will learn what grammatical moods are and how each are used in German.

What is a grammatical mood?

A mood is another way to change a verb in this case it changes the attitude about a particular statement. Contrary to what you may be thinking, it’s not about whether or not you like this particular sentence or if you’re just gonna be all whiny about it that’s a different type of mood or attitude. In this case we’re talking about whether or not this is a fact, a desire, or a command.

Grammatical Mood: Indicative

Last time I alluded to the idea that most people know what the indicative mood is. This is the one that is talking about facts. This could be something that is happening, something that has happened, or something that will happen. Of course this also includes questions such as “Where are you going? and “Are you going?” Obviously you are going even though you know it says “are you”. If you want to know more about the indicative mood, it’s probably just easier for you to watch the video about tenses, as I covered basically all of the indicative mood there.

Learn more about the indicative mood in the post about tenses here.

Grammatical Mood: Imperative

The second mood that most people learn about in a German class is the command form or the imperative. This mood is obviously going to be used whenever you’re telling someone what to do. Since there are three different you’s in German, obviously you can use all three of these you’s when giving commands. If you would use the du-form with someone when speaking with them, you would use the du-form when commanding them. Obviously the same is true of the ihr-form and of course the Sie-form. 

There is a fourth version that you can use as well and that is the wir-form. This is kind of counterintuitive to most people, but once I explain that it’s actually just kind of like using “let’s” in front of an English sentence then it makes perfect sense. Things like “let’s go” or “let’s run” or something along those lines. It’s commanding yourself and a group of other people. I’ve already done some blog posts and some other videos and some older stuff about command form. I’ll eventually be doing this in the 3 Minuten Deutsch series but I just haven’t gotten to it yet. I linked all of the other things that I’ve done so far on the command form in the description as well as on the side here. 

Commands with du

Let’s go over the command form really, really quickly. If you’re gonna use the du-form with somebody as a command, basically you just write any sentence that you would have as long as it’s not a question with a question word. Then you take out the du and the -st out of the sentence. So for instance if you have the word gehen and you would conjugate it to the du-form you would say Gehst du nach Hause? – Are you going home? or Du gehst nach Hause. – You are going home. If you want to use this as a command you take out the du in the -st and you add an exclamation mark to the end of the sentence. So you would say Geh nach Hause! – Go home. 

If a verb is irregular for the du-form for the stem change, then you would also have that same stem change whenever you’re using a command. So for example the verb “geben” which means “to give” changes to “gibst” in the du-form. If you’re gonna use that with the command, you would say “Gib” as in “Gib mir einen Keks!” – Give me a cookie. This however does not work if the verb takes an a-ä change. So, for instance, the verb “fahren” where it would be “du fährst” (you are driving) you would just say “Fahr” (drive). 

Similar to what happens whenever you are conjugating a verb in the indicative mood in the present tense, if the verb stem ends in an S you will not be adding an S in the indicative mood and therefore you will not be taking away an S when you are using a command. For example: “Liest du ein Buch?” (Are you reading a book?” and you would change that to a command of “Lies ein Buch!” (Read a book.) 

Commands with ihr

The ihr-form is actually pretty easy. All you have to do is take out the igr for each sentence, you know, just like van Gogh did. So, for example, “Fahrt ihr nach Hause?” (Are you driving home?) “Fahrt nach Hause! (Drive home.) “Lest ihr ein Buch?” (Are you reading a book?) “Lest ein Buch!” (Read a book.) 

Commands with Sie and wir

The Sie-form command is really simple. All you have to do is put your verb first, then your Sie. Then everything else is the exact same as it would have been. Basically it’s question word order. The only difference is that you put an exclamation mark at the end instead of a question mark and the inflection of your voice changes. See if you can spot the difference in these sentences Fahren Sie nach Hause? Fahren Sie nach Hause! Lesen Sie ein Buch? Lesen Sie ein Buch! 

It’s the exact same way in the wir-form. Fahren wir nach Hause? Fahren wir nach Hause! Lesen wir ein Buch? Lesen wir ein Buch! 

Grammatical Mood: Subjunctive

The last mood on our list today is actually the most complicated of them all and that is the subjunctive mood. This is the one that’s used to talk about things that are contrary to reality. Basically it’s hypotheticals. It can also be used with indirect speech like the things that you’ll find in a newspaper when they’re reporting what someone else said. There is no way I could finish all of the things about the subjunctive in this post and therefore I’m just gonna leave that to the blog post that I already did about the subjunctive. You can find that link down in the description and also up to the side here.

You can learn more about the subjunctive mood in this post here.

Herr Antrim
Herr Antrim is a German teacher with over 10 years of teaching experience. In 2011 he started his successful YouTube Channel "Learn German with Herr Antrim". In 2015 he created this website to enhance the German language lessons he was providing on YouTube. He is now the author of his own e-book, "Beginner German with Herr Antrim". He has also been featured on numerous blogs and other sites. *This site uses a variety of affiliate links. If there is a link that leads to an outside site from which you could potentially make a purchase, it is very likely an affiliate link for which Herr Antrim will receive a small portion of your purchase. This does not cost you any extra, but it does help keep this website going. If you would like more information about the affiliate programs this site uses, click here.
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