PERSON, MOOD AND NUMBER AS GRAMMATICAL PROPERTIES OF VERBS
Person is the form of the verb which designates the person speaking (i.e. first person; e.g. I am), the person spoken to (i.e. second person; e.g. You are) and the person or thing spoken of (i.e. third person; e.g. He/It is).
Mood (or MODE) is the form of the verb that is used to indicate the manner in which the action is conceived. It expresses the attitude or thought of the speaker towards the action of the verb in a sentence, whether the speaker is merely making a statement, giving an order, or expressing a simple wish. Thus, we have three basic moods in English: namely, the indicative mood, which states a fact, asks a question, or makes a supposition ; the imperative mood, which expresses a command, or prayer, or request, or advice; and the subjunctive mood, which expresses doubt, a condition contrary to fact, a wish or regret, a concession, or a supposition. Below are some examples of mood:
1) Indicative Mood
- The sky is blue.
- Who is that?
- If he is honest, he need not fear.
2) Imperative Mood
- Halt! Get away from here.
- Forgive us our sins, O God.
- Lend me your pen, please.
3) Subjunctive Mood
- If I had a pen, I would write.
- I wish I were unborn.
- I move that the guilty be punished.
Number refers to the change in the form of a verb, a noun, or a pronoun to designate singular (i.e. one item) or plural (i.e. more than one item). Specifically, therefore, the verb assumes two different forms – singular or plural -to show its agreement with its subject in number. The following examples will suffice to illustrate:
- Singular – I eat; you eat; he/she/it eats.
- Plural – We eat; you eat; they eat.
Notably, the verb, except to be , regularly indicates person and number only in the third person singular of the present tense with an “-s” marker. A singular subject takes a singular verb (e.g. John is a boy) while a compound subject takes a plural verb (e.g. John and James are boys). Similarly, a collective noun takes a singular verb while plural nouns and nouns of multitude take plural verbs.