Optative mood

The optative mood expresses the desires or wishes of the speaker. For the purpose of this parameter, it should be considered a distinct verbal paradigm restricted to this function. [1] The optative should not be confused with the imperative, in which the speaker expresses a command to the listener. [2] It is also distinct from the subjunctive, the use of which is often restricted by syntactic factors and may not necessarily express desires, and from the desiderative, which may express the desires of anyone in the sentence. A language may have multiple optative moods with distinct functions.[3]


NoOptInfl: There is no distinct verbal paradigm to express the optative mood.

OptInfl: There is a distinct verbal paradigm to express the optative mood.[4]


[1] Paradigms that express meaning beyond the optative should not be considered, nor should non-verbal strategies for expressing the optative, such as periphrastic constructions. If an inflectional paradigm fulfills these requirements, it may also co-occur with syntactic strategies.

[2] The distinction between imperative and optative may vary between languages. For example, a sentence like “Go to hell!” may belong to the optative paradigm in some languages, since it expresses a desire rather than an actual command, while it may be treated as an imperative in other languages.

[3] For example, one type may be restricted to blessings and curses.

[4] In the commentary, the optative paradigm should be illustrated in contrast to another mood, such as indicative, imperative, subjunctive or desiderative. If multiple types of optative exist, these should also be detailed in the commentary.