Non-finite Clauses for intermediate learners

Non-finite clauses are based on to-infinitive and participles. They are actually subordinate clauses. Let us learn all about them.

What Are Non-finite Clauses?

What Are None-finite Clauses?

Non-finite clauses are clauses that do not have a finite verb, meaning they are not limited by tense and do not contain a subject that is bound by agreement with the verb.

Non-finite Clauses: Types

There are different types of non-finite clauses in English, including:

Now, let us analyze each:

Infinitives as Non-finite Clauses

Infinitives are a type of non-finite clause because they do not have a finite verb and are subordinate to an independent clause. They are often used to express purpose, intention, or obligation and must typically follow an independent clause to form a complete and meaningful sentence. Look at the following examples:

To talk on the phone is not really what I like.

As you can see, if we remove the independent clause, the sentence will remain incomplete.

Jimmy thought it best to ask for a promotion at work.

Participles as Non-finite Clauses

Participles, both past, and present, are also categorized as non-finite clauses. They are subordinate and they must always come with an independent clause to be complete. Look at the following examples:

Reading the article, mom was devastated.

Here, the present participle will make no sense if it is alone.

Martha, excited like a baby, jumped up and down.

Here, we have a past participle clause in the sentence.

Non-finite Clauses: Uses

Non-finite clauses serve different functions in a sentence, such as:

Now, let us see some examples:

Talking to that stranger really freshened me up.

As the subject

They want to talk to the manager right away.

As the object

The Mathers just sat there to smoke cigarettes.

As an adverbial


It might come in handy to know that we can use the verbs in these non-finite clauses as adjectives to modify nouns. Look at the following examples:

It is a confusing situation.

Here, we have a present participle as an adjective.

She is a girl to date.

Here, we have an infinitive verb as an adjective.


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