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Irene Droppert
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The moods of a verb are used to refer to a characteristic verbal construction, which is linked to a specific function.

The mood of a verb indicates the role that the action of the verb is playing.

In order to recognize the different modes, between verb forms they must distinguish themselves either in the inflected endings of the verb, or in the choice of the particles which are used in the sentence.

On that account the mood is characterized as a verbal grammatical category, whereas the modality is used to refer to a number of linguistic applications in the base moods.

The major moods in English include the indicative which states an actuality or fact, the imperative, makes requests and the subjunctive, expresses a doubtful condition and is often used with an if-clause.

In Modern Greek three moods are distinguished:

The indicative - «η οριστική»
  • This mood represents reality and it is used to give information about a situation, an operation or event. A negation is formed with the particle «δεν» which preceded the verb.
Some examples in sentences:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
1Πηγαίνω στο σχολείο. I go to school.
2Γύρισα στο σπίτι. I returned home.
3Ο Γιάννης δεν γύρισε ακόμα. John did not return yet.
  • The event in sentence 1 with the verb «πηγαίνω» - to go is in the 1st person singular of the present tense.
  • The event in sentence 2 with the verb «γυρίζω» - to return is in the 1st person singular of the aorist.
  • In sentence 3, the particle δεν» is preceded the verb «γυρίζω».
Conditional expressions
  • The future particle «θα» and the particles «να» and «ας» of the subjunctive in combination with the verb-forms of the indicative are used to express hope, coincidence, desire, possibility, probability etc.
ελληνικά αγγλικά
1Μακάρι να έχω περάσει στις εξετάσεις. Had I only passed the exam.
2Ας κέρδιζα το λαχείο! If I could only win the lottery!
3Θα είχε γυρίσει τώρα, είναι αργά. He should have been returned by now, it's late.
  • Sentence 1 expresses a wish, therefore the particle «να» in combination with the indicative mood is used. The verb «περνάω» - to pass is conjugated in the 1st person singular of the perfect tense.
  • Sentence 2 expresses hope, hence the particle «ας» with the verb «κερδίζω» - to win, earn is conjugated in the 1st person singular of the indicative imperfect.
  • Sentence 3 expresses a strong probability, consequently the particle «θα» is used together with the verb «γυρίζω» - to return in the 3rd person in the pluperfect of the indicative mood, in a conditional construction (conditional).

The indicative mood in English makes a statement or asks a question. The vast majority of sentences are in the indicative mood. The finite verb-form in a statement or an interrogative sentence will be in the indicative mood e.g.:

  • Have you finished your homework?
  • Amsterdam is the capital of the Netherlands.
  • I saw something today that really annoyed me.
  • It will rain soon.
  • She was studying all day long.
The subjunctive - «η υποτακτική»
  • The subjunctive mood denotes an expression of will. When we are influenced by something, are afraid of something, desire, suggest, propose, recommend, wish, fear, allow, admit, imply something, the subjunctive is used. This mood is formed by the usage of the particles «να» and «ας» and a verb-form. In negative utterances the particle «μην» is put between «να» or «ας» and the verb-form.
Some examples:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
1Θέλω να παίξουμε. literal: I want that we play.
2Ας τραγουδήσουμε. Let's sing.
3Φοβάμαι να οδηγήσω στην Αθήνα. I'm afraid to drive in Athens.
4Δέν μπορώ νά μήν πάω! Not to go does not work (lit.I cannot, not go).
  • All four sententes are showing one of aforementioned properties, such as desire in sentence 1, a proposal in sentence 2, fear in sentence 3 and a denial in sentence 4, which actually means I have to go.

The subjunctive in English indicates a hypothetical state or a state contrary to reality, such as a wish, a desire, or an imaginary situation. English had a highly developed subjunctive mood in the past. During the years the subjunctive is used less frequently and today it has practically vanished. Today it still occurs in a variety of contexts in which the form of the used verb is different from what it normally would be, given the implied time of the action. When it is used to express the present, the bare form of the infinitive is used, regardless of the subject:

  • You should listen to your parents.
  • I suggest that he arrive on Mondays this month.
  • It is required that she go to the kitchen.
  • If I were a butterfly, I would have wings.
  • She wishes she were not here.
  • I insist (that) he leave now.
  • I braked in order that the car stay on the road.
The imperative - «η υποστακτική»
  • This mood is used to give orders or instructions by asking, demanding or requiring people to do things. For negative expressions the subjunctive is employed, because the imperative cannot be negated.
  • The imperative is restricted to non-past forms in the 2nd person singular and plural. In addition to that the imperative of the passive voice is restricted to only the perfective aspect, viz the aorist aspect.
Some examples:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
1Βγες έξω! Go away!
2Ανοίξτε τα βιβλία σας! Open your books!
3Μάζεψε τα παιχνίδια σου! Pick up your toys!
4Χάρισέ του το! ή Χάρισέ το του! Give it to him! (both allowed)
5Φώναξέ τες! Call them (feminine)!
6Στείλε της ένα γράμμα! Send her a letter!
7Κλείσ’το! Close it!
8Διαβάστε το! Read it! (you/polite)
9(Να) μη φορέσεις αυτό το παντελόνι! Don't wear that trousers!
10(Να) μην του το δώσεις! Don't give it to him!
  • The verb «βγαίνω» - to go out has been conjugated in the aorist of the imperative singular.
  • The verb «ανοίγω» - to open has been conjugated in the aorist of the imperative plural.
  • The verb «μαζεύω» - to collect, gather, but in this sentence it means to pick up. It has been conjugated in the aorist of the imperative singular.
  • An abbreviated command e.g. of the sentence: «Χάρισε το βιβλίο στον αδερφό σου!» - Give the book to your brother.
  • Ditto: «Φώναξε τις κοπέλες να έρθουν!» - Call the girls to come!.
  • Ditto: «Στείλε ένα γράμμα στη θεία σου!» - Send your aunt a letter!
  • Ditto: «Κλείσε το φως.» - Put out the fire!
  • Ditto: «Διαβάστε το, είναι σημαντικό» - Read it, it's important!
  • As explained above the imperative has no negative forms, but in stead the subjunctive with the particle «μην» is used. The verb «φοράω» - to wear has been conjugated accordingly in de aorist.
  • The verb «δίνω» - to give has been applied the same way. The particle «να» may be ommited in an utterence expressing a ban.
  • The most used forms to form the imperative are the imperfect and the perfect aspects of the active verb and the momentane (perfective) aspect of the passive verb.
  • For the regular verbs to form the imperative the first conjugation - «η πρώτη συζυγία» and the second conjugation - «η δεύτερη συζυγία» is employed.

The Imperative in English is a verb-form used to give orders, commands, warning or instructions, and to make a requests, e.g.:

  • Come here!
  • Sit down!
  • Watch out!
  • Don't drink alcohol!
  • Please wait here!
  • Don't touch that!
  • Look out!
  • Stop!

The imperative distinguishes itself by specific verbal endings from the other two moods, which are distinguished from each other by the choice of the particles accompanying the verb, and by the choice of the negative particles.

The indicative and imperative shortly:

  • (δεν) - θα + verb represent the indicative mood
  • (μην) - να or ας + verb represent the subjunctive mood.

With the indicative mood the event or situation of the verb is described, in the present tense, past tense and future tense: «γράφω» - I write or I am writing, «έγραφα» - I wrote and in the aorist «έγραψα» - I wrote (also with the meaning: I used to write).

This is generally understandable, but if the relationship becomes more complicated the indicative mood can apply another mood which sometimes differs considerably from the typical specific use.

One of the characteristics of the indicative mood is the fact that no misunderstanding about the truth of what has been alleged should be existed. In many cases the denial of an expression with the particle «δεν», which is also a feature of the indicative mood, can provide a solution, if an assertion is interpreted correct or not. For instance, when we look at the expression «θα γράψω» - I will write, which is in the future simple, and we can add «δεν», the negative particle, «δεν θα γράψω» - I will not write we have the prove that the assertion is correct.

However, the future is not a tense that we can describe as unprejudiced because the event or situation has not yet taken place. This means that for the future tense of the indicative mood, it is not always necessary to express a fact.

Because the future tense is a part of the indicative mood afterall, we are able to express a possibility or probability by using this tense as well.


All verbal expressions in the future tense, to which the particle «δεν» can be added and which can not go together with the particles «να» and «ας» of the subjunctive, are arranged as indicated.

The following example sentences including the particle «δεν»:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
1(Δε) γράφω συχνά στο φίλο μου. I write (don't write) often to my friend.
2(Δε) θα γράψω ένα γράμμα απόψε. I will (not) write a letter tonight.
3(Δεν) το έγραψα για σένα. I did (not) write it for you.
4(Δεν) θα το της έχει γράψει. He should (not) have written it to her.
  • In sentence 1 the indicative mood is clear, because as evidence we can make the sentence negative with the particle «δεν».
  • Sentence 2 is a probability in the future. Here we can also use the indicative mood in the future perfect.
  • In sentence 3 the aorist is used, but also in the indicative mood.
  • In sentence 4 we use the future perfect again. This is a conditional sentence* with the meaning He should not have done it.

* That statements or questions in the future, with non-affirmative expressions which denote assumptions or conclusions about the past, present or future, are equated, due to the fact that they are represented with the particle «θα» in front of the verb, is one of the most interesting facets of the moods in Modern Greek.

Modern Greek differs from other languages because the infinitive (the inconjugabile form of the verb) is missing. This is controlled in the MG by phrases with a conjugated verb, usually in the subjunctive, in an additional phrase.


The term infinitive is in Modern Greek somewhat misleading. Firstly because infinitive means not completed. The infinitive is indeclinable and personal endings are missing. Secondly, because the infinitive in Modern Greek is no longer used, like in other languages, including English. Actually in Modern Greek the oral aspect is expressed, i.e. distinction is made between immediate or single actions versus continuous or customary actions. In fact a better term for the infinitive would be timeless perfect tense.

Due to the absence of a real infinitive the Greek language have different terms for this form. One of them is the dependent, which means that the infinitive, the inconjugabile form of the verb, can not be used individually, but depends on another word. Preceded by a conjugable form of the auxiliary verb «έχω» the perfect tense is composed, e.g. «έχει πάει» - he/she has been gone.

An example, preceded by the particle «θα» including the auxiliary verb «έχω», is: «θα έχει πάει» - he/she will be gone. Here it is assumed that he or she has gone.

An example, preceded by only the particle «θα» (without «έχω») is: «θα πάνε » - they will go. Here we are dealing with the indicative mood in the future tense, i.e. this is an immediate action and consequently the 3rd person plural in the future simple of the verb «πάω, πηγαίνω» is used.

Examples with «ας» or «να» of the subjunctive are: «να πάνε» - that they are going and «ας πάνε» - they should go.

The particle «ας» of the subjunctive occurs in direct speech, thus only in the literal rendering of someone words. It expresses reprimand, warning, consent, approval, indifference and appreciation. Combined with the simple past tense, it expresses an unfulfillable desire.

Conversely the particle «να» expresses a wish, a request, a less powerful command (lesser than in the imperative) or a suggestion. The following sentences, represent the differences between the two particles, with and without using the negative parτikel «μην»:

ελληνικά αγγλικά
1Ας μην έρθουν, αφού δε θέλουν. Do not allow them to come, because they do not want.
2Ας (μην) της το πεις, (δεν) θα το εκτιμήσει. (Don't) say it to her, she will (not) appreciate it.
3Ας της το 'λεγες! Had you only said it to her!
4Ας το, το κάνω εγώ Let it, I will do it!
5Ας μιλάει όσο αυτή θέλει. Let her speak as much as she wants.
6Να την προειδοποιήσετε για τους γλιστερούς δρόμους. Warn her for the slippery streets.
7Να μην τον ενοχλήσουμε σήμερα. We should not bother him today
8Να μου γράφεις συχνά. Write me often (please).
9Να το πείτε, Θα ήθελα να το ξέρω. Go ahead (say it), I'd like to know it.
10Να πας, να τον δεις. You should see him (visit).
  • The tendency of sentence 1 is permission (We don't permit them to come). If we would use «να» the meaning would change in a kind of command (It is insisted that they do not come).
  • Sentence 2 is with the negative particle «μην» a warning and without «μην» a recommendation.
  • When «ας» is used together with the imperfect, such as in sentence 3, it can be used in all finite verb forms. Here an unfulfillable wish is expressed.
  • Sentences 4 and 5 denote a weak command with «ας».
  • If we would use «ας» in sentence 6 the meaning of the sentence would be Let's warn her, if not it expresses a weak command.
  • The same applies for sentence 7. If we use «ας», the meaning of the sentence will be Let's not bother him. With «να» is expresses a request.
  • Sentence 8 also denotes a request.
  • Do tell it, in sentence 9 is a weak command (less strong than in the imperative).
  • Sentence 10 expresses a suggestion.

More about the particles

There are two cases in which the imperative is replaced by the subjunctive:
  • If an command is weakened, the subjunctive is used instead of an affirmative imperative sentence
ελληνικά αγγλικά
1Ας του δώσεις τα λεφτά! Give him the money anyway!
2Να της το έλεγες! You should had to tell her!
3Ας το πιεις, ειναι εύγεστο! Do drink it, it's delicious!
4Να μιλήσετε ελληνικά με τον Πέτρο! Do speak Greek with Peter!
5Να της το γράψεις! You have to write her!
6Να ντυθείς, θα φεύγουμε! Get dressed, we're leaving!
  • All sentences are authoritative, but formulated less strongly than in the imperative, hence the subjunctive is used.
  • In sentence 6 the passive form of the verb ντύνω» - to dress is used, «ντύνομαι» - to dress yourself.
  • In order to formulate a negative command or ban:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
1Μην της το γράψεις. Don't write it to her.
2Να μην της το γράψεις. You should not write her.
3Μην καθίσεις εκεί στη γωνιά. Don't go sitting in the corner.
4Μην κλείσεις την πόρτα. Don't close the door.
5Να μην κλείσεις την πόρτα. You should not close the door.
6Μη μου μιλάς για αυτήν την ιστορία. Do not talk to me about this story.
7Μη! Don't!
8Μη φοβάσαι, δεν κάνω τιπότα! Don't be afraid, I don’t do anything!

To formulate a negative command or prohibition the subjunctive is used with the particles «ας» and «να». The particle «να» may be omitted, but it makes the command or ban more direct. The particle «μη(ν)» also can be used without the other particles to prohibit or advice something that has been said earlier.

  • In the sentences 1 and 2, with and without «να», sentence 1 is more direct than the second one. The same applies for the sentences 4 and 5.
  • The sentences 3, 6 and 7 are negative commands. In sentence 7 only «μη(ν)» is used, that can be supplemented as necessary with the appropriate verb in the subjunctive, such as in sentence 8.

In order to tone down the effect of a direct command, to have it sound more as a suggestion, the particle «για» can be added:

  • Για έλα εδώ ένα λεπτό!
  • Για πες μου μωρέ, γιατί γκρινιάζεις;
  • Come here for a minute!
  • Tell me child, why are you feeling cold?

If we want to give a more gentle, polite command also «παρακαλώ» - alstublieft may be put at the beginning or end, with the verb conjugated in the 2nd person singular (the polite form).

  • Παρακαλώ, έλατε μέσα!
  • Καθίστε παρακαλώ!
  • Come in, please!
  • Sit down, please!