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Finite and Non-finite Verbs

Finite Verbs

A finite verb (sometimes called main verbs) is a
verb that has a subject, this means that it can be
the main verb in a sentence. It shows tense (past
/ present, etc.) or number (singular / plural).
Finite verbs are conjugated in the clause/
For example:
I live in Ober. (I is the subject - live describes
what the subject does - live is a finite verb).

Non-Finite Verbs

A non-finite verb has no subject, tense or number.
Non-finite verbs cannot, by themselves, be main
verbs, i.e. they are not conjugated.
Another, more useful term for non-finite verb is verbal
Non-finite verb forms are:
1. Infinitives: full infinitives (indicated by to) / bare
infinitives (without to)
2. Participles: present (-ing) and past (-ed)
3. Gerund (-ing)

1. Infinitives
In English, a verb's infinitive can be considered:
1. as the full infinitive (or to-infinitive): introduced by
the particle to
-"I waited for summer to arrive."
2. bare infinitive: the particle is absent,
- "He helped them find it."
To Infinitive: Examples
To wait seemed foolish when decisive
action was required. (subject)

Everyone wanted to go. (direct object)

His ambition is to study. (subject

He lacked the strength to resist. (adjective)

We must study to learn. (adverb)

Bare Infinitive: Examples

After some perception verbs such as HEAR, FEEL or
SEE and the verbs LET and MAKE:

I saw you leave home.
My parents dont let me stay out late.

2. Participle
A participle acts as an adjective (running
shoes; broken vase; lost child; unread book)
A participle can be either present or past.
The participle will be either an adjective or part
of a verb phrase
- Are those running shoes new? (participle)

3. Gerund
A gerund is the -ing form of a verb used as a
The gerund form of a verb looks exactly like the
present participle, but they function differently
in a sentence.
The gerund will fill a noun slot (subject, direct
object, object of preposition, etc.)
- Running is a good exercise. (gerund)

Gerund: Examples
Gerund as subject:
Travelling might be dangerous on rainy days.
Gerund as direct object:
They do not appreciate my singing.
Gerund as subject complement:
A company's favourite activity is selling.
Gerund as object of preposition:
They employed him for providing the right

Verbs that only take infinitives as
verbal direct objects
agree decide expect hesitate
learn need promise neglect
hope want plan attempt
propose intend pretend
Verbs that only take gerunds as
verbal direct objects
deny risk delay consider can't help
keep give up be fond of finish quit
put off practice postpone tolerate suggest
stop (quit) regret enjoy keep(on) admit
avoid recall mind miss appreciate
recommend dislike detest get/be through
get/be tired of get/be accustomed to get/be used to
Verbs that take gerunds or infinitives
as verbal direct objects

Verbs followed by to infinitive or
Without change in

With change in meaning:


Complete the sentences using the ing
form or the to-infinitive.
1. I want ______ (go).
2. ______ (swim) keeps me in shape.
3. She has the money _____ (buy) it.
4. _____ (see) is to believe.
5. He won the game by_____ (score).
1. I want to go .
2. Swimming keeps me in shape.
3. She has the money to buy it.
4. To see is to believe.
5. He won the game by scoring