AskDefine | Define indicative

Dictionary Definition

indicative adj
1 relating to the mood of verbs that is used simple declarative statements; "indicative mood" [syn: declarative]
2 (usually followed by `of') pointing out or revealing clearly; "actions indicative of fear" [syn: indicatory, revelatory, significative, suggestive] n : a mood (grammatically unmarked) that represents the act or state as an objective fact [syn: indicative mood, declarative mood, declarative, common mood, fact mood]

User Contributed Dictionary



From indicativus.


  • a US /ɪnˈdɪk.ə.tɪv/


  1. serving as a sign, indication or suggestion of something
    He had pains indicative of a heart attack.
  2. of, or relating to the indicative mood


serving as a sign


  1. the indicative mood


the indicative mood

See also



  1. feminine of indicatif



indicative p

Extensive Definition

Grammatical mood is one of a set of distinctive forms that are used to signal modality. It is distinct from grammatical tense or grammatical aspect, although these concepts are conflated to some degree in many languages, including English and most other modern Indo-European languages, insofar as the same word patterns are used to express more than one of these concepts at the same time.
Currently identified moods include conditional, imperative, indicative, injunctive, optative, potential, subjunctive, and more. Infinitive is a category apart from all these finite forms, and so are gerunds and participles. Some Uralic Samoyedic languages have more than ten moods; Nenets has as many as sixteen. The original Indo-European inventory of moods was indicative, subjunctive, optative, and imperative. Not every Indo-European language has each of these moods, but the most conservative ones such as Avestan, Ancient Greek, and Sanskrit have them all.
It should be noted that not all of the moods listed below are clearly conceptually distinct. Individual terminology varies from language to language, and the coverage of (e.g.) the "conditional" mood in one language may largely overlap with that of the "hypothetical" or "potential" mood in another. Even when two different moods exist in the same language, their respective usages may blur, or may be defined by syntactic rather than semantic criteria. For example, the subjunctive and optative moods in Ancient Greek alternate syntactically in many subordinate clauses, depending on the tense of the main verb. The usage of the indicative, subjunctive and jussive moods in Classical Arabic is almost completely controlled by syntactic context; the only possible alternation in the same context is between indicative and jussive following the negative particle lā.
The distinction of affirmative and negative is not mood but polarity.



Realis moods are a category of grammatical moods that indicate that something is actually the case or actually not the case. The most common realis mood is the indicative mood or the declarative mood.


The declarative mood 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 (see below).


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"). In German, the same effect is obtained by the introduction of a particle; "ja" (or "ja doch", "doch") can be inserted for emphasis. In portuguese there is the "Forma Enfática" which introduces an element in a phrase that you want to emphasize. For example: "Eu fui à escola" (I went to school). and "Eu já fui à escola" (I['ve already] went to school).


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 definite article the implies specific, particular rabbits, whereas omitting it implies the generic mood simply by default.
Ancient Greek had a species of generic mood, the so-called gnomic utterance, marked by the aorist indicative (normally reserved for statements about the past). It was used especially to express philosophical truths about the world.


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


Irrealis moods are the main set of grammatical moods that indicate that a certain situation or action is not known to have happened as the speaker is talking.


The cohortative mood (alternatively, hortatory) is used to express plea, insistence, imploring, self-encouragement, wish, desire, intent, command, purpose or consequence. It does not exist in English, but phrases such as "let us" are often used to denote it. In Latin, it is interchangeable with the jussive.


The conditional mood is used to speak of an event whose realization is dependent on a certain condition, particularly, but not exclusively, in conditional sentences. In Modern English, it is a periphrastic construction, with the form would + infinitive, e.g. I would buy. In other languages, such as Spanish or French, verbs have a specific conditional inflection. Thus, the conditional version of "John eats if he is hungry" is:
John would eat if he were hungry, in English;
Jean mangerait s'il avait faim, in French;
Juan comería si tuviera hambre, in Spanish.
In the Romance languages, the conditional form is used primarily in the apodosis (main clause) of conditional clauses, and in a few set phrases where it expresses courtesy or doubt. The main verb in the protasis (dependent clause) is either in the subjunctive or in the indicative mood. However, this is not a universal trait: in Finnish, for example, the conditional mood is used in both the apodosis and the protasis. An example is the sentence "I would buy a house if I earned a lot of money", where in Finnish both clauses have the conditional marker -isi-: Ostaisin talon, jos ansaitsisin paljon rahaa. Another example, related somewhat closer to English, is Polish, where the conditional marker -by also appears twice: Kupiłbym dom, gdybym zarabiał dużo pieniędzy.
In English, too, the would + infinitive construct can be employed in main clauses, with a subjunctive sense: "If you would only tell me what is troubling you, I might be able to help".


The dubitative mood is used in Ojibwe, Turkish, and other languages. It expresses the speaker's doubt or uncertainty about the event denoted by the verb. For example, in Ojibwe, Baawitigong igo ayaa noongom translates as "he is in California today." When the dubitative suffix -dog is added, this becomes Baawitigong igo ayaadog noongom, "I guess he must be in California.


The eventive mood is used in the Finnish epic poem Kalevala. It is a combination of the potential and the conditional. It is also used in dialects of Estonian. In Finnish, there are theoretically forms such as kävelleisin "I would probably walk".


The hypothetical mood, found in Russian, Lakota, and other languages, expresses a counterfactual but possible event or situation.


The imperative mood expresses direct commands, requests, and prohibitions. In many circumstances, using the imperative mood may sound blunt or even rude, so it is often used with care. Example: "Paul, do your homework now". An imperative is used to tell someone to do something without argument.
Many languages, including English, use the bare verb stem to form the imperative (such as "go", "run", "do"). Other languages, such as Seri and Latin, however, use special imperative forms.
In English, second person is implied by the imperative except when first-person plural is specified, as in "Let's go" ("Let us go").
The prohibitive mood, the negative imperative may be grammatically or morphologically different from the imperative mood in some languages. It indicates that the action of the verb is not permitted, e.g. "Don't you go!"
In English, the imperative is sometimes used to form a conditional sentence: e.g. "go eastwards a mile, and you'll see it" means "if you go eastwards a mile, you will see it".


The interrogative mood is used for asking questions. Most languages do not have a special mood for asking questions, but Welsh and Nenets do.


The jussive mood is similar to the cohortative mood, in that it expresses plea, insistence, imploring, self-encouragement, wish, desire, intent, command, purpose or consequence. In some languages, the two are distinguished in that cohortative occurs in the first person and the jussive in the second or third. It is found in Arabic, where it is called the مجزوم, majzum. The rules governing the jussive in Arabic are somewhat complex.


The optative mood expresses hopes, wishes or commands and has other uses that may overlap with the subjunctive mood. Few languages have an optative as a distinct mood; some that do are Albanian, Ancient Greek, Sanskrit, Japanese, Finnish, and all forms of the Persian language (Avestan, Old Persian, Middle Persian, New Persian).
In Finnish, the mood may be called an "archaic" or "formal imperative", even if it has other uses; nevertheless, it does express formality at least. For example, the ninth Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights begins with Älköön ketään pidätettäkö mielivaltaisesti, "Not anyone shall be arrested arbitrarily", where älköön pidätettäkö "shall not be arrested" is the optative of ei pidätetä "is not arrested". (Also, using the conditional mood -isi- in conjunction with the clitic -pa yields an optative meaning, e.g. olisinpa "if I only were". Here, it is evident that the wish is not, and probably will not be fulfilled.)
In Japanese the verb inflection -tai expresses the speaker's desire, e.g. watashi wa asoko ni ikitai "I want to go there". Oddly enough, this verb form is treated as a pseudo-adjective: the auxiliary verb garu is used by dropping the end -i of an adjective to indicate the outward appearance of another's mental state, in this case the desire of a person other than the speaker (e.g. Jon wa tabetagatte imasu "John wants to eat").
Sometimes this is called a "desiderative mood", since it indicates desires. Occasionally distinctions are made between different optative moods, e.g. a mood to express hopes as opposed to a mood to express desires. (Desires are what we want to be the case; hope generally implies optimism toward the chances of a desire's fulfillment. If someone desires something but is pessimistic about its chances of occurring, then one desires it but does not hope for it.)


The potential mood is a mood of probability, indicating that in the opinion of the speaker, the action or occurrence is considered likely. It is used in Persian, Finnish, Japanese, in Sanskrit and in the Sámi languages. (In Japanese it is often called something like tentative, since potential is used to refer to a voice indicating capability to perform the action.)
In Finnish, it is mostly a literary device, as it has virtually disappeared from daily spoken language in most dialects. Its suffix is -ne-, as in *men + ne + e → mennee "(s/he/it) will probably go". Some kinds of consonant clusters simplify to geminates. This simplification occurs progressively (*rne → rre) with the resonant consonants L, R, and S, and regressively with stops (*tne → nne) and is meant to prevent the violation of phonotactical rules concerning sonority hierarchy. For example, korjata → *korjat + ne + t → korjannet "you will probably fix", or tulla → *tul + ne + e → tullee "s/he/it will probably come". The potential mood can be used only in present and perfect tenses. The verb ole- "be" is replaced by lie, so that "(it) is probably" is lienee (not *ollee). Thus, in the perfect tense, which is formed with an auxiliary verb, the auxiliary verb lie is used instead of ole- as liene-, e.g. lienet korjannut "you have probably fixed" (not *ollet korjannut).
In English, it is formed by means of the auxiliaries may, can, ought and must.


The presumptive mood is used in Romanian to express presupposition or hypothesis regarding the fact denoted by the verb, as well as other more or less similar attitudes: doubt, curiosity, concern, condition, indifference, inevitability. For example, acolo s-o fi dus "he might have gone there" shows the basic presupposition use, while the following excerpt from a poem of Eminescu
De-o fi una, de-o fi alta... Ce e scris i pentru noi,
Bucuroi le-om duce toate, de e pace, de-i război.
Be it one, be it the other... Whatever fate we have,
We will gladly go through all, be it peace or be it war
shows the use both in a conditional clause de-o fi "suppose it is" and in a main clause showing an attitude of submission to fate le-om duce "we would bear".


Precative mood is a grammatical mood which signifies requests, e.g. "Will you pass me the salt?"


The subjunctive mood, sometimes called conjunctive mood, has several uses in dependent clauses. Examples include discussing hypothetical or unlikely events, expressing opinions or emotions, or making polite requests (the exact scope is language-specific). A subjunctive mood exists in English, but native English speakers need not use it. Example: "I suggested that Paul eat an apple", Paul is not in fact eating an apple. Contrast this with the sentence "Paul eats apples", where the verb "to eat" is in the present tense, indicative mood. Another way, especially in British English, of expressing this might be "I suggested that Paul should eat an apple", derived from "Paul should eat an apple."
Other uses of the subjunctive in English, as in "And if he be not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring for his trespass..." (KJV Leviticus 5:7) have definitely become archaic. Statements such as "I will ensure that he leave immediately" often sound archaic or overly formal, and have been almost completely supplanted by constructions with the indicative, like "I will ensure that he leaves immediately".
The subjunctive mood figures prominently in the grammar of Persian and the Romance languages, which require this mood for certain types of dependent clauses. This point commonly causes difficulty for English speakers learning these languages.
In certain other languages, the dubitative or the conditional moods may be employed instead of the subjunctive in referring to doubtful or unlikely events (see the main article).


The volitive mood is used to indicate the desires, wishes or fears, of the speaker.

Admirative and inferential

The admirative mood is used to express surprise, but also doubt, irony, sarcasm, etc. In Indo-European languages, the admirative, unlike the optative, is not one of the original moods, but a later development. Admirative constructs occur in Balkan Slavic (Bulgarian and Macedonian), Tosk Albanian, and Megleno-Romanian. A form of the admirative, derived from the Albanian pattern, can be found in Frasheriote Arumanian. It seems that the dubitative/inferential patterns of Turkish — a non-Indo-European language — influenced Albanian and Balkan Slavic languages in this regard.
The inferential mood is used to report a nonwitnessed event without confirming it, but the same forms also function as admiratives in the Balkan languages in which they occur. The inferential mood is used in some languages such as Turkish to convey information about events, which were not directly observed or were inferred by the speaker. When referring to Bulgarian and other Balkan languages, it is often called renarrative mood. The inferential is usually impossible to be distinguishably translated into English. For instance, indicative Bulgarian той отиде and Turkish o gitti will be translated the same as inferential той отишъл and o gitmiş — with the English indicative he went. Using the first pair, however, implies very strongly that the speaker either witnessed the event or is very sure that it took place. The second pair implies either that the speaker did not in fact witness it take place, that it occurred in the remote past or that there is considerable doubt as to whether it actually happened. If it were necessary to make the distinction, then the English construction "he must have gone" would partly translate the inferential.
Writing on the typology of evidentiality in Balkan languages, Victor Friedman systematizes the facts in the following way:
"As grammaticalized in the Balkan languages, evidentiality encodes the speaker's evaluation of the narrated event, often, but not always, predicated upon the nature of the available evidence. These evidentials can be of two types: Confirmative (sometimes called 'witnessed') and nonconfirmative (sometimes called 'reported', 'inferential', and/or 'nonwitnessed'). The nonconfirmatives can, in Austin's terms, be felicitous (neutral) or infelicitous. Felicitous nonconfirmatives are used for reports, inferences, etc., for which the speaker chooses not to take responsibility. An infelicitous nonconfirmative expresses either acceptance of a previously unexpected state of affairs (surprise, i.e. something the speaker would not have been willing to confirm prior to discovery, the mirative or admirative) or sarcastic rejection of a previous statement (doubt, irony, etc., the dubitative)."
Ibid., "Illustrative data (interlinear glossing is omitted to save space): [...]
Тој бил богат! (Macedonian, nonconfirmative past)
Той щял да ме набие. (Bulgarian, doubtful future: He is going to beat me up, but I do not think that would be possible because I think that I am stronger than he)
Ама вие сте били тук. (Bulgarian, present tense: You are/have been here, but I did not know it, I have just found out and I am surprised at the fact)
O zenginmiş! (Turkish, nonconfirmative past)
Ai qenka i pasur! (Albanian, nonconfirmative present)
He is rich! (To my surprise, the nonconfirmative refers to discovery of pre-existing state)
Ku qenka mjeshtri? (Albanian, nonconfirmative present)
Каде бил мајсторот? (Macedonian, nonconfirmative past)
Patron neredeymiş? (Turkish, nonconfirmative past)
Where is the boss? (I am surprised at his absence; Albanian can have true present meaning, Balkan Slavic/Turkish cannot)
Present and future tenses also exist for such a mood in the above-mentioned languages, but, with the exception of the Albanian true nonconfirmative present illustrated above, these "nonconfirmatives, (from perfects), always have a past reference to either a real or a putative narrated event, speech event, or state of mind. They cannot be used with true nonpast reference."
Do t'u hapka një universitet privat (Albanian: A private University will be opened - apparently, i.e. as reported by someone & to my surprise.)
Varacakmış (Turkish: He will be arriving - as told by someone)
From SIL:
indicative in Catalan: Mode
indicative in Chuvash: Наклонени
indicative in Czech: Slovesný způsob
indicative in Danish: Modus
indicative in German: Modus (Grammatik)
indicative in Spanish: Modo gramatical
indicative in Esperanto: Gramatika modo
indicative in French: Mode (grammaire)
indicative in Scottish Gaelic: Taisbeanach (gràmar)
indicative in Galician: Modo gramatical
indicative in Indonesian: Modus
indicative in Icelandic: Hættir sagna
indicative in Italian: Modo (linguistica)
indicative in Hebrew: מודוס (בלשנות)
indicative in Lithuanian: Nuosaka
indicative in Lojban: gerna selcni
indicative in Hungarian: Igemód
indicative in Dutch: Wijs
indicative in Japanese: 法 (文法)
indicative in Norwegian: Modus
indicative in Norwegian Nynorsk: Modus
indicative in Polish: Tryb (językoznawstwo)
indicative in Russian: Наклонение (лингвистика)
indicative in Northern Sami: Vuohki (giellaoahpalaš)
indicative in Slovenian: Glagolski naklon
indicative in Finnish: Tapaluokka
indicative in Swedish: Modus
indicative in Turkish: Kip
indicative in Chinese: 语气

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Christophanic, Satanophanic, absolute, adducible, admissible, allegorical, allusive, allusory, angelophanic, appearing, associational, attestative, attestive, augural, authentic, based on, certain, characteristic, circumstantial, conclusive, conditional, connotational, connotative, convincing, cumulative, damning, decisive, definable, demonstrating, demonstrative, denominative, denotational, denotative, designative, determinative, diagnostic, disclosive, displaying, documentary, documented, emblematic, epiphanic, evidential, evidentiary, evincive, ex parte, exhibitive, expositional, expository, expressive, extended, extensional, eye-witness, factual, figural, figurative, final, firsthand, forerunning, foreshadowing, foreshowing, foretokening, forewarning, founded on, full of meaning, full of point, full of substance, grounded on, hearsay, heavy with meaning, identifying, ideographic, idiosyncratic, imperative, implicational, implicative, implicatory, implicit, incarnating, incarnational, incontrovertible, indicating, indicatory, indisputable, individual, inferential, insinuating, insinuative, insinuatory, intelligible, intensional, interpretable, intuitive, ironic, irrefutable, irresistible, jussive, manifestative, material, materializing, meaning, meaningful, meaty, metaphorical, mode, monitory, mood, naming, nuncupative, obligative, optative, overwhelming, pathognomonic, peculiar, permissive, pithy, pneumatophanic, pointed, potential, precursive, precursory, predictive, prefigurative, pregnant, preindicative, premonitory, presageful, presaging, presentational, presumptive, probative, prognostic, prognosticative, promulgatory, readable, referential, reliable, representative, revelational, revelatory, semantic, semiotic, sententious, showing, signalizing, significant, significative, signifying, subjunctive, substantial, suggestive, sure, symbolic, symbolistic, symbological, symptomatic, symptomatologic, telling, theophanic, transferred, typical, valid, warning, weighty
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