Finite and Non-finite Verbs in English Grammar

Finite and Non-finite Verbs in English Grammar

Some verbs change their forms based on the person and tenses. They can be conjugated. And some verbs always stay the same. To know them, click here!

Finite and Non-finite Verbs in English Grammar

Finite and Non-finite Verbs

There are mainly two types of verbs in English – finite and non-finite. Finite verbs have different forms in different tenses. Non-finite verbs always stay the same.

Main Difference

The main difference between finite and non-finite verbs are:
The verbs that come immediately after the subject in a sentence with two verbs is the finite verb.
The finite verbs change according to time and person, but non-finite verbs are always the same.

Sean went to his mom's house to celebrate her birthday .

After the subject 'Sean', we have the verb 'went'. So 'went' is the finite verb. And the verb 'to celebrate' is a non-finite verb.

Tom has tried to win the race .

'Has tried' is the finite word, 'to win' is the non-finite verb.

Tom will try to win the race .

'Will try' is finite and 'to win' is non-finite.

Finite Verbs

Based on the number or person of the subject, Finite verbs change their forms. They also have different forms in different tenses.

Non-finite Verbs

Non-finite verbs do not change their form when the number or person of the subject changes. There are mainly three types of non-finite verbs:

  1. infinitives
  2. gerunds
  3. participles

Infinitives

The infinitive form of a verb is formed with 'to' before the base form of a verb. It can function as a noun. Thus in many sentences either a gerund or an infinitive may be used without any special difference in meaning.

  • the subject of a verb;

To save lives is important .

To tell a lie is a sin .

  • the object of a verb;

I want to drink .

I would like to order a pizza .

  • the complement of a verb;

His dream was to become a renowned poet .

Our job is to translate this text .

  • the object of a preposition;

What I'm about to do here is very dangerous .

Gerunds

A gerund is a noun that is derived from a verb and have a few verb-like properties. Gerunds are made by adding the suffix -ing to the verbs. They can be modified by an adverb and can take a direct object. In modern English, gerunds are the present participle of verbs and they help us make tenses like present continuous, past continuous etc. A gerund can have many functions in the English language. It can be used as:

  • Gerunds which are also called the present participle of verbs in English language, have a crucial rule in making the continuous (or progressive) tenses. For example, present continuous tense or past continuous tense.

She is trying to do her best .

  • the subject of a verb;

Stealing is a crime .

  • the object of a verb;

He tried to quit smoking .

  • the complement of a verb;

One of his hobbies is jogging .

  • the object of a preposition;

What I like most about swimming is feeling refreshed after it .

I put the dirty clothes in the washing machine .

Participles

Participles are words formed with verbs that are used with auxiliary verbs to create different tenses. There are two kinds of participles in English language:

  • present participle: A present participle is the form of the verb that ends in -ing and is used with the verb 'to be' to form continuous tenses.
  • past participle: Past participle is a form of a verb that usually ends in -d or -ed and can have many functions. However, some verbs don't form their past participle by adding -ed or -d suffix. They are called irregular verbs.

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