The grammatical mood in German

(The mood in German grammar)

Table of contents – grammatical mood

On this page you will find the following:

  1. Grammatical mood of the verb
  2. Further explanations and exercises

What does grammatical mood of a verb mean?

In the German language, a verb can appear in different grammatical moods, sometimes also called modes (in German: Modus or Aussageweise). This mood conveys the speaker’s point of view in relation to his statement. A distinction is made between three moods:

  1. The indicative (realis mood) (in German: Indikativ) expresses reality and, therefore, describes processes, states, etc., which actually happen. It is, so to speak, the ‘normal’ mood since it is the most common one.
    • Examples of the indicative are:
      • „Ich sehe ihn im Garten arbeiten.“ (I see him working in the garden.)
        • Präsens (present)
      • „Die Frau stand völlig überrascht vor ihrem Chef.“ (The woman was standing in front of her boss, completely surprised.)
        • Präteritum (preterite)
  2. The Konjunktiv (vaguely the subjunctive), on the other hand, expresses possible, non-real states, actions, processes, wishes, etc. It is also used for indirect speech.
    • Examples of the Konjunktiv are:
      • „Der Angeklagte sagt, er habe kein Geld.“ (The accused says he has no money.)
        • Konjunktiv I, Präsens (present)
      • Hätte ich mehr gelernt, wäre ich nicht durch die Prüfung gefallen.“ (If I had studied harder, I wouldn’t have failed the exam.)
        • Konjunktiv II, Plusquamperfekt (pluperfect)
  3. The imperative (command form) (in German: Imperativ) is employed for orders, prohibitions, advice, etc.
    • Examples of the imperative mood are:
      • „Hey, hör gut zu! Ich sage es nur einmal.“ (Hey, listen carefully! I’m only going to say it once.)
        • imperative singular
        • Careful: Spelling mistake! Occasionally, you may see an apostrophe appended to this imperative form (e.g., „Hör’ gut zu!“). However, according to the current grammar/spelling rules, this is wrong; no apostrophe is set (compare Duden).
      • „Markus und Tanja, schlaft euch aus! Morgen haben wir viel Arbeit.“ (Markus and Tanja, get some sleep. We’re going to have a lot of work tomorrow.)
        • imperative plural
      • „Herr Müller, nehmen Sie sich ein Stück Kuchen! Er schmeckt sehr gut.“ (Mr Müller, have a piece of cake. It tastes delicious.)
        • imperative for polite addresses

Further explanations related to the ‘Grammatical mood’

The following explanations refer to the topic ‘The mood in German grammar’ and could be interesting too: