The grammatical mood of a tense indicates its attitude: whether it is a statement of fact or a command or non-factual statements such as a wish, an assumption, an obligation, etc. For example, the verb “to work” has:
- indicative mood in “He works”
- subjunctive mood in “It is necessary that he work”
- imperative mood in “Work!”
Classical Persian has five moods: indicative, subjunctive, conditional, optative and imperative. In modern Persian, verbs are no longer conjugated in the conditional mood. Additionally, the optative mood has transferred much of its functionality to the subjunctive mood.
The indicative mood is used to express factual statements. It is not used to express statements that do not belong to the reality. In Persian, this mood is called گزارشی (“gozâreši”; reportive, reporting) because it reports statements that are based on facts or relating to facts.
It is not raining
|در خانه ماند
dar xâne mând
He/She stayed at home
|تهران پایتخت ایران است
tehrân pâytaxt-e irân ast
Tehran is the capital of Iran
|سفر چقدر طول میکشد؟
safar čeǧadr tul mikešad?
How long will the journey take?
In contrast to the indicative mood, the subjunctive mood is about non-factual statements. It is used to express possibility, uncertainty, obligation, desire, etc. In English, the subjunctive survives only in very limited situations.
|فکر کنم باران بیاید
fekr konam bârân biyâyad
I think it is going to rain
|بهتر است در خانه بمانی
behtar ast dar xâne bemâni
It is better that you stay at home
|شک دارم که بخواهد مرا ببیند
šak dâram bexwâhad ma’râ bebinad
I doubt that she wants to see me
|میخواهیم شاد باشیم
mixwâhim šâd bâšim
We want to be happy
The imperative mood expresses direct commands or requests.
|در خانه بمان
dar xâne bemân
Stay at home!
Don’t be sad!
The optative mood is used to express hopes, wishes and prayers. Persian has distinct conjugational forms for the optative but in the modern usage, the subjunctive mood is used to express optative statements and the optative is mainly limited to some fixed forms e.g. باد (“bâd”), which is the optative form of the verb بودن (“budan”; to be) for third-person singular.
|زنده باد ایران
zende bâd irân
Long live Iran!
(literally: May Iran be alive)
|تنت به ناز طبیبان نیازمند مباد
tan-at be nâz-e tabibân niyâzmand mabâd
May your body not be in need of the physician’s care!
(from Persian poet “Hafez”)