Verb, the category of mood. Other types of expressing modality — Theoretical Grammar | iFREEstore

Verb, the category of mood. Other types of expressing modality

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The category of mood

Mood (Lat. modus – характер, модус) shows the degree of reality or possibility of an action. The verbal category of mood serves to express the speaker’s attitude towards the factuality of a state-of-affairs as real, existing in fact, or as hypothetical, i.e. not necessarily real. The definition given by Academician V. Vinogradov is the following: “Mood expresses the relation of the action to reality, as stated by the speaker”. In contemporary English the category of mood is decaying. The forms of the unreal mood in many cases are replaced by modals.

Generally two groups of moods are distinguished: the real or fact moods and the unreal or non-fact, oblique moods.  

 The indicative is the only real mood in the English language. It represents an action as a real fact. The forms of the Indicative mood are the tense-aspect forms of the verb. There are 2 non-fact moods in English: the Imperative and the Subjunctive Mood.

 The imperative mood is represented by one form only, without any suffix or ending. It expresses advice, request, recommendation, order and so on. Leave me alone!

Stelling considers the imperative mood the grammatical idiom.

 The Subjunctive Mood represents an action as unreal. I wish I had known it.

Another approach is that the category of mood consists of three constituents, the Indicative and the Subjunctives I and II. They form a binary apposition, the unmarked member (indicative) being opposed to the marked member, which appears in two variants (subjunctive I and II):

call - ---------------- + call – 0 (no –s/tense, correlation, aspect)

                                  call –ed

The categorical meaning of the category of mood indicates the hypothetical nature of the states-of-affairs described as seen from the speaker’s point of view. The functions of the marked forms are identical with the categorical meaning of the category of mood.

The boss insisted that Tom arrive at eight sharp. (Subjunctive I)

She suggested that I be the cook. (Subjunctive I)

It’s time John went on a diet. (Subjunctive II)

I wish I had thought of him before. (Subjunctive II)

The function of the unmarked form negates this categorical meaning in that it indicates the “reality of the state-of-affairs”.

We live in Russia. (Indicative)

It is only the indicative that has full tense, correlation and aspect markings.

Prof. Smirnitsky proposed a system of 6 moods.

  •  Indicative He came there. The sun rises in the East.
  •  Imperative Read the letter! Go there! повелительное
  •  Subjunctive I (be/go for all persons) I suggest that he go there. If it be so. сослагательное
  •  Subjunctive II (were for all persons, and forms knew, had known homonymous with forms of Past Tense, Perfect and Non-Perfect Aspect (Phase). I wish I were present. If I knew… If I had known…
  •  Suppositional (analytical forms should/would + infinitive) Should you meet him, tell him to come. I suggest that he/you should go there.
  •  Conditional (analytical forms should/would + infinitive in the main clause of unreal condition sentences) What would you answer if you were asked?

It should be noted that there are other ways of indicating the reality or possibility of an action, besides the verbal category of mood (i. e. morphological means)

  •  Lexical-syntactic means – combination of modal verbs may/might, can/could, must, should, will/would, ought to, etc with the infinitive. (Don’t wait up for me because I might be late. If anything should happen I can take care of myself).
  •  Lexical means – modal words maybe, perhaps, possibly, probably (Perhaps he has something on his conscience, and wants advice) and other words (nouns, adjectives, verbs) of modal semantics, which introduce subordinate clauses and acts as predicators (wish, it’s time, possible, probable, chance, possibility, etc). It’s time we were moving. It’s possible there might be large chances around here.
  •  Syntactic types of sentences and subordinate clauses (imperative, clauses introduced by conjunctions as if/as though, conditional, etc) Take it easy! She really looks sometimes as if she isn’t all there.
  •  Different combinations of the above means.
  •  Intonation, prosody

Other ways of expressing modality

Lexical-syntactic means – combination of modal verbs may/might, can/could, must, should, will/would, ought to, etc with the infinitive. (Don’t wait up for me because I might be late. If anything should happen I can take care of myself).

Lexical means – modal words maybe, perhaps, possibly, probably (Perhaps he has something on his conscience, and wants advice) and other words (nouns, adjectives, verbs) of modal semantics, which introduce subordinate clauses and acts as predicators (wish, it’s time, possible, probable, chance, possibility, etc). It’s time we were moving. It’s possible there might be large chances around here.

Syntactic types of sentences and subordinate clauses (imperative, clauses introduced by conjunctions as if/as though, conditional, etc) Take it easy! She really looks sometimes as if she isn’t all there.

Different combinations of the above means.

Intonation, prosody

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Exam Questions. The Subject of Theoretical Grammar. Syntagmatic relations. Segmental units. History of English Grammars. Parts of speech. The noun as a part of speech.

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