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Clauses: finite and non-finite 

from English Grammar Today 


Finite clauses

Finite clauses must contain a verb which shows tense. They can be main
clauses or subordinate clauses:

Is it raining? (main: present)

I spoke to Joanne last night. (main: past)

We didn’t get any food because we didn’t have enough time. (main:
past; subordinate: past)

Non-finite clauses

Non-finite clauses contain a verb which does not show tense. We usually
use non-finite verbs only in subordinate clauses. We usually understand
the time referred to from the context of the main clause. We often use a
non-finite clause when the subject is the same as the subject in the main
clause:

I had something to eat before leaving. (I had something to eat before I


left.)

After having spent six hours at the hospital, they eventually came
home.

Helped by local volunteers, staff at the museum have spent many


years sorting and cataloguing more than 100,000 photographs.

He left the party and went home, not having anyone to talk to.

The person to ask about going to New Zealand is Beck.

You have to look at the picture really carefully in order to see all the
detail.
After, although, though, and if

We often use non-finite clauses after some subordinating conjunctions


like after, although, though and if:

By the end of the day, although exhausted, Mark did not feel quite as
tired as he had in the past. (although he was exhausted)

The proposal, if accepted by Parliament, will mean fundamental


changes to the education system.

See also:
Ellipsis

After verbs + -ing or infinitive with to

We use non-finite clauses as the complements to verbs which take -ing or


to-infinitive after them:

I don’t enjoy playing tennis in the rain.

I’d hate to travel to London every day.

Relative clauses

A relative clause can be non-finite when the subject of the relative clause
is the same as the subject of the main clause:

The man sitting on the sofa over there is Simon’s brother. (The man
who is sitting …)

Don’t forget to fill in the form attached to the letter. (… which is


attached to the letter.)
See also:
Although or though?

Finite clauses

Relative clauses

Table of contents

+ Adjectives and adverbs

+ Easily confused words

+ Nouns, pronouns and determiners


+ Prepositions and particles

– Words, sentences and clauses

– about words, clauses and sentences

Abbreviations, initials and acronyms

Adjuncts

Apposition

Clause types

Clauses

Clauses and sentences

Clauses: finite and non-finite

Collocation

Complements

Dummy subjects

Ellipsis

Fronting

Heads

Objects

Promise

Sentences

Subject complements

Subjects

Subject–verb agreement

Word classes and phrase classes

as and as expressions

comparing and contrasting


conditionals and wishes

linking words and expressions

questions and negative sentences

relative clauses

reported speech

so and such

word formation

word order and focus

+ Using English

+ Verbs

Blog
On the spur of the moment (Words and phrases to describe
sudden actions)
September 26, 2018

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