English Grammar

Differences between indicative and subjunctive mood in detail

The indicative mood

To know the differences between the indicative and subjunctive mood of verbs, we must clearly know what each of them means. Differences between indicative and subjunctive mood

In this lesson, we will start with the indicative mood, the most common. In this case it is a mode that focuses on expressing real and concrete actions . That is why many experts define it as the way that describes the real world.

The indicative mood goes to the concrete, whether in time, in action, in activity, etc. Let’s see it in an example: Manuel caresses his cat every morning . We observe that we speak of a specific person, Manuel, as well as of an action, caressing the cat, and of a very specific time, the mornings.

The indicative mood states real, proven and concrete facts, not wishes or possibilities. For this reason, it includes the verb tenses of the present, the past perfect, the past imperfect, the future and the simple conditional.

The subjunctive mood

For its part, the subjunctive mood of the verb expresses possibility and hypothesis . That is, we can use it to talk about something that we would like to happen, or some event that could happen, even that is likely to happen, but we cannot know for sure.

To observe it in an example, we are going to use the same phrase that we have used previously, but we will adapt it to the subjunctive mood: Manuel would like to pet his cat every morning . In this case, a wish is being expressed by Manuel, who, for some reason, cannot pet his pet in the morning, although he would like to. We do not know the reason, simply that it is a wish, but it cannot be fulfilled.

In this case, the tenses of the subjunctive mood are the present, the past and the future.


Now that we know what both consist of, what are the differences between the indicative and subjunctive mood? We have already been able to see the clearest one, and that is that while the first expresses specific actions, acts and times, the second is hypothetical, highlighting a desire or possibility.

  1. In addition, there are other important differences. For example, the indicative usually expresses truth, while the subjunctive expresses feeling, doubt, hope, etc. For example: Mario had a great time in front of Hope Mario had a good time . Differences between indicative and subjunctive mood
  2. The indicative is used in affirmative speeches, while the subjunctive is used in negatives. It seems to me that Mario is having fun in front of I don’t think Mario is having fun .
  3. The indicative mood is used when the action is regular or has occurred, while the subjunctive is normally used if it has not yet taken place: Mario waited until you came in front of Mario should wait until you come .
  4. The indicative also serves to express concretions, people with particular characteristics, while the subjunctive does not specify, although it can express special characteristics: Mario is looking for Paco to fix his bicycle in front of Mario, he would like to find someone to fix your bike .

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