What is Subjunctive Mood? - Definition & Examples

Instructor: Margaret Stone

Margaret has taught both college and high school English and has a master's degree in English.

In this lesson, we will discover the definition of subjunctive mood. We will also look at examples of sentences written in subjunctive mood. Subjunctive mood is easy to identify and use.

What Is Subjunctive Mood?

Subjunctive Mood

To understand subjunctive mood, we must first understand what mood is. In grammar, mood refers to a verb form that shows the writer's attitude toward the content of his or her words.

There are three different kinds of mood in English grammar. Subjunctive mood expresses a desire, a requirement, a suggestion, or a hypothetical. The other two types of mood are indicative and imperative. Indicative mood asks a question or expresses a fact or opinion, while imperative mood is used to issue a command.


Subjective mood can express a desire or a wish.

I wish I were there to help you celebrate your birthday.

Subjunctive mood can also express a requirement or necessity.

It is essential that the volunteers arrive on time.

Suggestions are also considered subjunctive mood.

I suggest that you move your car away from the dead tree.

Hypothetical situations are also expressions cast in subjunctive mood.

If I won the lottery, I would build a house in the country.

Notice that none of these examples depict an event that has actually happened; instead, these statements express wishes and needs.

Using Subjunctive Verb Forms

Identifying sentences that use subjunctive mood is rather easy, and the rules for choosing appropriate verb forms for subjunctive expressions is simple, too.

First, use the plural verb were in clauses that are in conflict with fact. These clauses will often begin with the word if and will express a wish. For example,

I wish Mr. Brown were my professor; I understand that his lectures are compelling.

If you were going to the beach, what kind of shoes would you take?

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