Verb Mood

Modos de verbos

Mood refers to the verb forms that express the attitude of the speaker toward the action/state of the verb – how likely or factual the statement is. The Spanish language has six or seven moods, depending on how you look at it.

Personal moods Modos personales
Personal moods make a distinction between grammatical persons: they are conjugated.
I.  Indicative Indicativo Indicates a fact – the most common mood.
II.  Subjunctive Subjuntivo Expresses subjectivity, doubt, or unlikelihood.
III.  Conditional* Potencial Describes a condition or possibility.
IV.  Imperative Imperativo Gives a command.

Impersonal moods

Modos impersonales
Impersonal moods are not conjugated: they have a single form for all grammatical persons.
V.  Infinitive Infinitivo Name of the verb.
VI.  Participle Participio Adjectival form of the verb.
VII. Gerund Gerundio Adverbial form of the verb.

* Some grammarians include the potencial (aka condicional) with the indicativo. I consider it a different mood.

There is some confusion over the difference between tense and mood, but it is really very simple. Tense is the when of the verb: whether the action takes place in the past, present, or future. Mood indicates the feeling of the verb; more specifically, the speaker’s attitude or feeling toward the action. Is s/he saying that the action is true or uncertain? Is it a possibility or a command? These nuances are expressed with different moods.

Moods and tenses work together to give verbs a precise meaning. Each mood has at least two tenses. The indicative mood is the most common – you might call it the "normal" mood – and has the most tenses. When you conjugate a verb, you do so by first choosing the appropriate mood and then adding a tense to it. Check out the verb timeline to understand how tenses and moods fit together.