A note on the term “Mood” in English Grammar

A note on the term “Mood” in English Grammar

Have you ever heard of the subjunctive or indicative referred to as a “mood” and wondered “Just….Why??” The term originally came from the Latin word “modus” meaning “mode.” Throughout the centuries, in publications of eminently sane, if uneventful, editions of Latin grammar books, the subjunctive and indicative were referred to as modes or “ways” in which a writer could express his attitude toward a subject: either as expressing a fact (indicative) or as expressing uncertainty or a supposition (the subjunctive, as in “it may..” or “it would…” as opposed to “it is…”). English Grammars, however, in an unexpected flight of fancy, decided to add an extra “o” to the perfectly well available English word “Mode.” Corruptions of French are rife in English and not unexpected given its once widespread use, but it is difficult to come up with a more obvious and evident corruption of Latin in English.

 

 

Interested readers may wish to further consult The Oxford Handbook of Modality and Mood additional historical information on this topic: http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199591435.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199591435-e-4

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