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The Subjunctive Mood

Old English has three verb "moods," the indicative, subjunctive, and imperative.

The imperative mood is used only for direct commands.

The indicative mood is the one most often used. By and large, it is used for situations when facts and reality, as opposed to guesses, wishes, or imagined situations, are the content of a sentence or clause, though this is not invariably the case, and often purely conventional use of moods is the real explanation for a particular instance.

The subjunctive mood generally signals that the action or state specified by the verb is the object of a wish, a hope, or a fear, a command or request, a conjecture, belief or hypothesis, or is for some other reason unreal. The subjunctive cannot usuallyl be the mood of the verb of a main clause, except in the case of sentences expressing a wish amounting to a command.

Forðy ic wolde ðætte hie ealneg æt ðære stowe wæren . . . .

Therefore I prefer that they always would be at that place.

Ond he . . . þone cyning bæd þæt he him wæpen sealde ond stodhors . . . .

And he . . . asked the king to give him (lit. that he give him--preterite subjunctive) weapons and a studhorse . . .

Ond for ðon ic ðe bebiode . . . ðæt ðu ðe ðissa woruldðinga . . . geæmetige . . . And therefore I command you . . . that you free yourself from these worldly concerns . . .

. . . ic geliefe ðæt ðu wille . . .

. . . I believe that you will

. . . ond ic wene þætte noht monige begiondan Humbre næren.

. . . and I believe that there were not many beyond the Humber.

Swylc swa þu æt swæsendum sitte mid þinum ealdormannum . . . and sie fyr onæled and þin heall gewyrmed, and hit rine and sniwe and styrme ute . . . .

As if you were to sit at feasting with your nobles and a fire were to be kindled and your hall warmed, and it were to rain and snow and storm out . . . .

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