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Mood and Modality

Modality express speaker/writer's attitude to the sentence they describe. Special grammatical forms for modalities are called mood. While there are few special grammatical forms, many other modalities are distinguished by syntax and lexicon (using different modal verbs and certain expressions). Despite some modalities are usually combined with only one specific tense, they should be distinguished from tense and aspect, as they do not carry such information per se.

Grammatical Moods

There are four special grammatical forms in Nûrlâm four various moods: Declarative (also Indicative, or Realis, abbreviated REAL), Jussive (JUS) or Imperative (IMP), Subjunctive (SJV), Interrogative (INT). In modern linguistics future tenses are counted as various moods (dynamic, eventive, predictive and some others), not as proper tenses, so this may be added too. However in this wiki traditional classification is used because future marker -ub goes in the same slot as past tense suffix, while moods are expressed by syntax or prefixes.

Realis mood

Indicative mood is used in majority of sentences. Articles about verb's grammar usually touch only this mood.

Imperative and Jussive moods

Imperative mood is the dictionary form of verbs. Thus just verb's root. Sometimes it may be called “bare infinitive”, but this term differs from English in usage. Imperative may take object pronoun ending but not subject pronoun prefix.


Subjunctive mood (abbreviated as SJV) is used to express various epistemic and desiderative moods. It is formed by adding suffix -ulg in place of suffixes of tense. Third person suffixes (â/û) are not used with Subjunctive. In analytic form of colloquial speech auxiliary verb kulg placed before main verb in Past tense or other modal verb in past tense together with kulg and main verb in infinitive. In analogy with English and because of similarity of adjacent consonants, “I would…” = “I'd …” in colloquial analytical Nûrlâm is often shortened to “Izg'ulg …” instead of “Izg kulg…”.

Interrogative mood

Interrogative mood is used to make questions. In Nûrlâm it has special prefix mar-. May be used as standalone word in certain situations. Abbreviated as INT.

Types of Modality

The are two sets of modality: Realis and Irrealis.

  • Realis
    • Indicative (declarative) mood
    • Mirative mood (action is absolutely real, but speaker is surprised; may express irony): “Wow, he can fight!”, “Wow, it speaks!”
  • Irrealis
    • Deontic (what should be)
      • Comissive (promises, threats)
      • Directive (commands, requests)
      • Volitive (wish, desire)
      • Necessitative mood (must, should, have to)
    • Epistemic (what may be)
      • Inferential/Oblique mood (real but not confirmed)
      • Potential mood (highly probable)
      • Presumptive mood (make assumption/presumption that event is real)
      • Assumptive/Deductive/Dubitative mood (must be, various degree of probability)
      • Speculative mood (assumption without any logic)
      • Hypothetical mood (already could/should (not) done)
      • Interrogative mood (questions)
      • Subjunctive/Conjunctive
    • Dynamic (ability under internal circumstances, can/will)
    • Dependent circumstances
      • Conditional mood
      • Eventive mood

Some moods can be applied together to one verb, specially interrogative with other irrealis, or eventive mood being a combination of conditional and potential. Many modalities overlap with each other or smoothly transit from one into another.

Chart of irrealis verb forms

Modality Description Verb forms Examples
Modal Main in dependent/
conditional clause
Deontic (what should be )
Comissive promises and vows - FUT - I shall help you = Dabhokub fizûr
any + INF - I have sworn to find the ring = Dagazduz gimbut nazgum
PRES FUT I will find the ring, I promise you = Dagimbub nazgum dafad fizûr
threats FUT - I will kill you! = Dadogubam
You will eat your own guts! = Fithrokhub hosh îmob
Directive (commands, requests)
Imperative order, command, prohibition to 2nd person - IMP - Come! = Skât!
Do not touch it! = Nargrauran
Hortative encouragement or invitation to 2nd person (adhortative / dehortative) gâkh.IMP / ilf.IMP (may) INF any You might go with us, it will be fun! = Gâkh fizûr ukhut daksha, kub glaz!1)
Demanding, tenacious request (exhortative / inhortative)2). maug.IMP (must, ought to, have to, shall, should) INF any You should really go to that place! = Maug ukhut fizûr zîginu
plea of absolute urgency (suprahortative / infrahortative)3) IMP any Please help us! We are dying! = Bhok dakûr dahas! Dakmatrad! 4)
encourage or discourage targeted person(s) to do something together with the speaker (cohortative, propositive), usually starts with gâkh (“let's”, “let us”):
encouragement for regular action gâkh.IMP INF Let's go! = Gâkh ukhut!
for future one-time action GERV Let's go! = Gâkh dakukhat!
3PL=FUT Let's go! = Gâkh dakukhub!
Jussive order to 2nd person to allow, permit or forbid 3rd person to do something dabh.IMP=3.OBJ (“let”) INF - Let him come in = Dabhan shiskut
gâkh.IMP 3=FUT = “Gâkh tashiskub” = lit. “Let's he will enter”
Precative polite request, similar to Jussive but allowance for 1st person (speaker) instead of 3rd person dabh.IMP=1.OBJ (let) INF - Let us come in (please) = Dabhak shiskut (dahas)
Let me interrupt you = Dabhiz rishotutam
- 1SG=has.PRES (plead, beg) IMP=1.OBJ Please give me the sword = Dahas thrâkiz lagum
Necessitative Similar to Hortative modalities but applies to 1st/3rd person. Translated like simple sentences with verbs “must”, “should”, “have to”, “need” in present or future tense. The same in past tense is Hypothetical modality maug- (must, ought to, have to, shall, should), bolk- (need) in present or future tense INF I must kill him = Damaug dogutan
They will have to go = Takbolkub ukhut
I need to eat = Dabolk throkhut
The same with Gerundives and impersonal constructions (like “it's necessary”, “it's important” and others) instead of modal verbs, more laconical way GERV It's important that orcs capture these hobbits = Hormarz dikat kudugza urukirzi5)
Order or command was not directly from speaker but through some mediate person. Speaker did not issued the command, but only repeat order of 3rd person. Main sentence explains who gave the order using such verbs as “command”, “order”, “demand”, “insist”, “request”, “recommend”, “propose”, “suggest”, “expect”. Similar to Desiderative, but with sense of obligation like Imperative, and explicit using of objective “you” (af, am) any GERV Morgoth demands that you were there by next morning = Morgoth thukhûlâtaf kulat zîgin ik ânshabirzi6)
Volitive (desire, wishes and hope)
Optative / Benedictive wish somebody something gâkh.IMP IMP May the force be with you! = Gâkh balum kul fisha
blessings Be lucky! = Gâkh dûrf 7)
Long live the king! = Gâkh arn kîb rodharz8)
curses Mordor be your grave! = Gâkh Uzgbûrz kul matronk fib
Desiderative wish something to happen irm (wish) / hiz (want) / darb (expect, wait) / kulg (would like) in PRES or SJV - SJV I wish my sword be here = Da irm lagdab kulg zin
= Da irmulg lagdab kulg zin
wish that somebody will do something, similar to Jussive but without obligation GERV Master wants you to find the ring = Goth hizâtaf gimbat nazgum
wish action to happen, wish to be able to do an action INF - I want (to go/be) out = Dahiz ukhut lût
He wants to fly = Tahiz skoirut
the same as above but without using modal verbs SJV - I would drink! = Dashogulg
personal preference (English “I would rather”, “I would prefer”) SJV - I would rather go = Da ukhulg hîsar
(the same with impersonal sentences and gerundive) GERV - For me it's better to go = Bhogar dazûr ukhat
(the same with infinitive as subject) - kul.PRES (be) - To go is better for me = Ukhut kulâ bhogar dazûr
advice, action is desirable for speaker or target object (similar to Hortative modality) in current circumstances (English “had better”) maug.PRES (should) INF You had better run away now = Fimaug irzut zil
(the same with impersonal sentence and gerundive) - GERV - It's better for you to run away now = Bhogar fizûr irzat zil
(the same with infinitive as subject) - kul.PRES (be) - To run away now is better for you = Irzut zil kulâ bhogar fizûr
hope, fear, dream of something to happen - khard.PRES (hope) any I hope you will find the ring = Dakhard figimbub nazgum
furg.PRES (fear) I fear they will find my ring = Dafurg tak gimbub nazgumdab
khard.PRES (hope), taur.PRES (dream) SJV Balrog dreams that rain would stop = Balrog taurâ zamal miz puzgulg
impersonal desire for something to happen or somebody to do an action9) (usually starts with “If only …”) - SJV If only my sword were here! = Ghung tug lagdab kulg zin
(any) in SJV INF If only I could kill the dragon! = Ghung tug dapâshulg dogut lûg
Epistemic (what may be)
Inferential / Oblique10) Event is almost real but non-confirmative. FUT I will defeat the dragon (speaker is sure) = Dafitgub lûgum
Event is real, but speaker didn't witnessed it personally (e.g. through news or other's speech) any PST I was told, he left the house = Gashnuzâtiz taranguz ozdum
Potential Speaker assumes high probability of an action. (Similar to inferential / oblique modality, but with little doubt) (any).PRES INF Probably I can defeat the dragon = Dapâsh faikut lûgum falgarz
FUT I will probably defeat the dragon = Dafitgub lûgum falgarz
PST He have probably built the house = Tatumbuz ozdum falgarz
Presumptive Speaker presumes the statement is true, similar to Conditional-Predictive, but condition is in some directive modality
using expression “be it so” (any).SJV INF kul.IMP (be) Be it so, he could win = Kulanzash tapâshulg fitgut
SJV Be it so, he would die = Kulanzash tamatulg
Be it so, he would be glad = Kulanzash takulg glaz
after verbs like “ton” (suppose), “gâkh tonut” (let's assume) (any).SJV INF ton (suppose) in IMP or gâkh.IMP + ton.INF + dependent clause Suppose it's true, he could win = Ton za kog, tapâshulg fitgut
SJV Let's assume it happened, then he would be glad = Gâkh tonut za ghugshuz, zîgil takulg glaz
Assumptive / Deductive statement assumed to be true, because it usually true in these circumstances, but less likely may be not. Starts or ends with “that must/should be” in English, which is parenthesis phrase and not a predicate. May be similar to Deductive modality (see below). kul (be) in any tense (omitted in PRES) maug.IMP (must/should) + kul.INF (be) That must be hobbits, who stole our precious (it's not the first time) = Zîg kulû, maug kulut, kudug zamash orskuzû turkûrz dakob
He should be a good warrior (e.g. people of his tribe considered to be that) = Ta, maug kulut, maubhog = He is a good warrior, must be = Takul ash maubhog, maug kulut
I must be blind (because I can't see the things that make true happiness) = Da, maug kulut, bûrk = I am blind, must me = Dakul bûrk, maug kulut
They must be in Gondor by now = Tak, maug kulut, Gunduzgor ik zil = Must be, they are in Gondor by now = Maug kulut, tak kul Gunduzgor ik zil
The statement was deduced on other information. (Deductive modality). The sentence itself does not differ from assumptive, but some explanation should be present in previous or next one. I don't see my precious. He must have stolen it! (He is the only person been here before it disappeared) = It must be stolen by him = Danarhon turkûrz dab. Maug kulut, orskulgan
Dubitative statement is uncertain or doubtful, but assumed to be true more likely (similar to assumptive and deductive modalities, but uses verb “may”) any ilf.IMP (may), maug.IMP (must) + kul.INF (be) Maybe he is ill = Ilf kulut, ta(kul) gômûrz = He might be ill = Ta, ilf kulut, gômûrz
May be he was an elf (we see only a skeleton) = Ilf kulut, takuz golug
Speaker is unsure or do not care who or how did the action. Used with dubitative indefinite pronouns. kul.PRES (be) SJV Whoever did this is fool = Maikon krampulg za kul pahum
ilf.IMP (may) / maug.IMP (must) kul.INF (be) SJV Whoever did this must be fool = Maikon krampulg za maug kulut pahum
Hypothetical Action already could/should (not) be done. Similar to Conditional-Counterfactual (see below) but condition itself is not presented inside same compound sentence pâsh (can) / ilf (may) / kul (be) in SJV INF You could kill me! = Fipâshulg dogutiz
SJV I would have alerted you (if haven't already missed an opportunity) = Darazgulgam
Speculative In contrast to Assumptive modality, speaker has no evidence or prerequisites for his statement. Similar to Hypothetical and Conditional-Counterfactual. pâsh (can) / ilf (may) / kul (be) in SJV INF The hobbits could stole it! = Kudug pâshulg orskutan
Subjunctive In simple clauses without modal verbs. Similar to hypothetical and conditional-counterfactual. Similar to expression “(one) want (do something)” but indicates that something prevents / prevented the wish from happening (see Desiderative modalities). (any) SJV I would drink = Dashogulg
In dependent clauses in combination with other modalities (e.g. presumptive), usually after conjunctions “so that”, “in order that” or just “that”. Also in conditional sentences (see Conditional modality) I suppose that orcs won = Daton zamash uruk faikulg
In comparisons (as if, like) You speak so as if I did something wrong = Figashn zash ghung dakrampulg ashmûd firk
Dragon looked at hobbit like he were going to eat him = Lûg honuzâ kudugu oth tapantulg thrakutan
After numerous impersonal constructions “it's (im)possible”, “it's likely”, “it's unbelievable”, “it's natural”, “it's strange” (and many others) and conjunction “that”. This case is usually replaced with Gerundives. May overlap with necessitative, eventive and counterfactual and modalities (any) SJV It's necessary that you be at the gates of Gondor tomorrow at dusk = Bolkarz zamash fikulg hûmob ik Gunduzgob shi muth ârshab11)
gerundive It's necessary that you be at the gates of Gondor tomorrow at dusk = Bolkarz fizûr kulat hûmob ik Gunduzgob shi muth ârshab12)
Interrogative General questions INT + (any) Did you kill him? = Fimardoguzan?
Did orcs killed the dragon? = Uruk mardoguzû lûgum?
Special questions (together with interrogative pro-forms) INT + (any) Where is he going? = Tamarukh min?
Who did this? = Mai markrampuz za?
Alternative questions INT + (any) INT + (any) Did you go to the forest or did you return home? = Fimarukhuz taushi ogh fimarkruskâtuz mokh?
INT + any tense Did you go left or right? = Fimarukhuz farkh ogh forg?
To be or not to be = Markulut ogh narmarkulut?
Disjunctive questions (any) INT13) You killed that dragon, didn't you? = Fidoguz zîg lûg, fimardoguz? = Fidoguz zîg lûg, mar?
Combination with other modalities INT + (any) Will you kill the dragon? 14) = Fimardogub lûgum?
INT + (any) any15) Can you kill the dragon? = Fimarpâsh dogut lûgum?
Dependent circumstances
Dynamic16) (can/will) pâsh.PRES (can) INF I can sing (right now) = Dapâsh lashut
pâsh.PST (could) INF I could sing (in the past) = Dapâshuz lashut
FUT I will sing = Dalashub
Conditional the complex sentence consists of two parts: condition - starts with words “ghung” (= if) or “amil” (= when); action if condition is true. There are several combinations of probability of condition and action to happen:
factual (both condition and action are regular or already happened in the past together) PRES PRES I sing when I drink = Dalash amil dashog
predictive (similar to potential and comissive modalities) - in sentences about future FUT FUT If he steals our food, we will kill him = Ghung ta orskub throk dakob, dakdoguban
If I (will) drink I will sing = Ghung dashogub dalashub
predictive (when speaker is unsure if condition will happen, but if it does, the action will be almost real) FUT SJV If he should get the money he will buy a horse = Ghung tasnabulg draug, tatûzub lûkh
suppositional: predictive + hortative / desiderative, e.g. to express hidden offering / hint / cue FUT SJV Should you come, I'll drink with you = Ghung fiskâtulg, dashogub fisha 17)
eventive (combination of potential, various directive and desiderative modalities). Similar to one just above, but condition is possible (but not happened yet) and action is doubtful SJV + falgarz (probably) FUT I would sing if you will bring the drink = Dalashulg ghung fithrakub akrum
counterfactual (similar to hypothetical and speculative), both action and condition already didn't happened or not yet happened (but almost impossible). SJV SJV I would sing if I had drunk = Dalashulg ghung dashogulg
If I had a dragon, I would fight against Balrog = Ghung dabrusulg ash lûg, damaukulg bug Balrog
Had I seen a trap, I would had alerted you = Ghung dahonulg ash hnûf, darazgulgam
counterfactual, used to translate expressions like “If I were you” (or someone were someone else), object in conditional clause should be in Essive case If I were goblin, I would run from Balrog = Ghung dakulg ash uruksi, da irzulg Balrogbo

See also

Please note transformation into impersonal sentence by putting “you” = “fi” into dative case
may cognate with Necessitative modality, see below
may cognate with Imperative, see above
lit. “Help to us, I plead! We are dying now!”
lit. “Importantly these hobbits to be captured by orcs”
Morgoth over-request=2PL.OBJ be.GERV there before morning=next=by
lit. “May (you) have luck!”
lit. “May the king live long!”
may be treated as Conditional/Eventive mood, see below
may be classified as Realis
lit.: Necessary that you would be in front of the gates of Gondor at dusk next day
lit.: Necessary for you to be in front of the gates of Gondor at dusk next day
repeat main verb or use just prefix “mar” standalone
with Inferential/Potential modality
according to other modality
included into deontic group of modalities in some classifications
lit.:If you would come, I'll drink with you
grammar_mood.txt · Last modified: 2023/09/07 19:38 by