How to Learn Mood in French

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Whether you realise it or not, you use grammatical moods every day. They clarify if you’re expressing a desire, a fact, or an instruction. This adds depth to your verbs and sentences.

Without learning the rules for mood in French, your speech can’t flow naturally.

Luckily for English speakers, the four moods in French are also used in English:

  • Indicative
  • Imperative
  • Conditional
  • Subjunctive

So while it’ll take a bit of study for the rules to become second nature, you’re already familiar with the concepts! Read on to learn about the four moods and how to use them.

French Indicative Mood

The indicative mood is all about making statements. It doesn't deal in hypotheticals or wishes, just facts. Here are some examples:

Je mange une pomme.

I’m eating an apple.


Je prends ma douche tous les matins.

I have a shower every morning.


Tu iras au cinéma demain.

You will go to the cinema tomorrow.


Elle a écrit un roman.

She wrote a novel.


Son manteau était élégant.

His coat was elegant.

This is the most common mood, and the one we usually learn first. And it works similarly to English. But learning the other three helps your language sound more well-rounded.

French Imperative Mood

Finally, the imperative mood lets you give instructions, commands, advice or permission. It works in a similar way to English, such as:

Finis ton dessert !

Finish your dessert!


Écoutez attentivement !

Listen closely!


Ne partons pas sans lui !

Let’s not leave without him!

French Conditional Mood

When we talk about hypothetical situations in English, we often use the conditional mood. It’s heavily associated with the words “if” and “would.” For example:

  • If I lived by the beach, I would swim every day.

But it’s also used in simple sentences that we learn early on, like:

  • I would like to order a coffee. 

In French, the conditional mood is also used to express desires, wishes or hypotheses, as such:

Si je vivais à côté de la mer, j’irais nager tous les jours.

If I lived by the beach, I would swim every day.


Pourriez-vous m’aider ?

Could you help me?


Elle voudrait visiter Paris.

She would like to visit Paris.

French Subjunctive Mood

In French, the subjunctive mood is also used to express hypotheticals, in the sense that it introduces doubt and uncertainty about the statement itself. It’s much more common in French than English, especially with specific expressions such as “Il faut que” and “vouloir que”. For example:

Il faut que tu sois là vers 18h.

You have to be there around 6pm. (i.e. not sure you will be)


Je veux qu’il vienne me voir.

I want him to come to see me. (i.e. not sure he will)

Exercises for Mood in French

Time to practise mood in French! Here are some exercises to practise the different moods:

Practice Makes Parfait!

Do you want to communicate with more than "school-style" sentences? Then learning grammatical mood in French is essential.

Now that you know the differences, practise little and often!

A free Kwiziq account gets you access to loads of exercises so you can drill the rules until they start to flow. Plus it comes with kwizzes that let Kwizbot make you a custom study plan, full of targeted learning.

Interested? Did we mention it’s free? Create your FREE account now!