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Realis moods (abbreviated real) are a category of grammatical moods which indicate that something is actually the case (or actually not the case); in other words, the state of which is known. The most common realis mood is the indicative mood, or declarative mood.



The indicative mood or evidential mood (abbreviated ind) is used for factual statements and positive beliefs. All intentions that a particular language does not categorize as another mood are classified as indicative. It is the most commonly used mood and is found in all languages. Example: "Paul is eating an apple" or "John eats apples".


English indicative


The indicative suffixes in Old, Middle, and Modern English regular verbs[1]
Present tense Past tense
Singular Plural Singular Plural
First person Second person Third person First & third person Second person
Old English -e -st -eþ -aþ -d-e -e-st -d-on
Middle English -e, -ø -st -th, -s -e(n) -d(e) -d-st -d-e(n)
Early Modern English -st -s, -th -d -d-st -d
Modern English -s -d -d -d

Modern English

The indicative mood is for statements of actuality or strong probability:

  • The spine-tailed swift flies faster than any other bird in the world.
  • The Missouri and Mississippi Rivers rose to record heights in 1993.
  • Midwesterners will remember the flooding for many years to come.
  • One may use do, does, or did with the indicative for emphasis.
Indicative Mood
Present indicative: Jerry Seinfeld laughs on television.
Past indicative: Jerry laughed on television.
Future indicative: Jerry will laugh on television tomorrow.


The declarative mood (abbreviated dec) indicates that the statement is true, without any qualifications being made. It is in many languages equivalent to the indicative mood, although sometimes distinctions between them are drawn. It is closely related with the inferential mood.


Found in Classical Arabic and various other Semitic languages, the energetic mood expresses something which is strongly believed or which the speaker wishes to emphasize, e.g. yaktubanna يَكتُبُنَّ ("he certainly writes").


The generic mood is used to generalize about a particular class of things, e.g. in "Rabbits are fast", one is speaking about rabbits in general, rather than about particular fast rabbits. English has no means of morphologically distinguishing generic mood from indicative mood; however, the distinction can easily be understood in context by surrounding words. Compare, for example: rabbits are fast, versus, those rabbits are fast. Use of the demonstrative pronoun those implies specific, particular rabbits, whereas omitting it implies the generic mood simply by default.

Ancient Greek had a kind of generic mood, the so-called gnomic tense, marked by the aorist indicative (normally reserved for statements about the past). It was used especially to express philosophical truths about the world.


  1. ^ The Cambridge history of the English language. Richard M. Hogg, Roger Lass, Norman Francis Blake, Suzanne Romaine, R. W. Burchfield, John Algeo. (2000).

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

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A grammatical tense referring to the mood of a verb. Usually found in common sentences. For example: Stacey eats pizza.

eats, stands, is, and hopes are all indicative forms of verbs.

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