in the following sentence second clause has conditional mood. but what about first clause (subjunctive or indicative?).

If you loved me you would support me.


3 Answers 3


It seems to be the subjunctive mood, especially since it's not known as a fact that "you" loves/loved "me". This becomes more clear if you read the sentence instead as:

You would support me if you loved me.

This page has some nice examples that help understand the different verb moods, and this excerpt seems most relevant:

The subjunctive mood can express a doubt or a wish using clauses beginning with "if" or "that"

Here, the first clause seems to be expressing doubt.



Most grammarians of English today don't use the term "conditional mood" or "conditional tense". "I would be" simply consists of subject + modal auxiliary + bare infinitive. If this is a "mood" then are "could be", "might be", "need be", "can be" also moods? We refer to "would", "could" as modal verbs because they express modality or mood, but there is no reason to count each one as a distinctive mood in the sense of a set of verb forms.


Traditional grammar distinguishes between the present subjunctive (e.g. be in "she asked that I be ready") and the past subjunctive (e.g. were in "she asked if I were ready"). The present subjunctive (whose only connection to tense or time is in its form, not its meaning) is always the same as the plain form of the verb (the same form as the bare infinitive, although it's not an infinitive here). The past subjunctive is always identical to the past indicative (so in your example, "loved" may well be a past subjunctive, although it could equally be a past indicative: no one can tell for sure), except for "be", where the past subjunctive is "were".


Huddleston and Pullum reject the terms "present subjunctive" and "past subjunctive". They use the term "subjunctive" to refer to the use of the plain form of the verb in mandative constructions and the like. But they regard this as a syntactic construction, not a distinct mood. And they use the term "irrealis" to refer to the isolated mood form "were".


The first clause is called the protasis and yours is in the subjunctive mood. "You loved" above is the second-person singular or plural form of the past subjunctive of "to love".

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