Non-finite Verbs - Check Out Its Meaning, Definition, Usage and Examples

As users of the English language, all of us use a lot of verbs in our daily conversations. Most of the time, we do not realise that there are multiple types of verbs and that each type of verb works differently to convey the message that you want to put across to your audience. Let us look at what a non-finite verb is, and how a finite verb differs from a non-finite verb. Also, try to analyse how far you use finite verbs and non-finite verbs in your everyday communication.

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What is a Non-finite Verb?

A non-finite verb is most often not the main verb in the sentence. It does not show the tense or number of the verb. Non-finite verbs are multifunctional. They can take the gerund form of the verb and function as an infinitive by taking a ‘to’ along with the base form of the verb.

Definition of a Non-Finite Verb

A non-finite verb is “an infinitive or a participle and has no tense”, according to the Collins Dictionary. The Oxford Learners’ Dictionary defines a non-finite verb as “a verb form or clause that does not show a particular tense, person or number”.

How to Use Non-finite Verbs in Sentences?

Learning how to use non-finite verbs in sentences can be made quite easy if you know how finite verbs work. Unlike finite verbs, non-finite verbs do not include main verbs and do not show any tense. Here are some tips on how you can make effective use of non-finite verbs in your everyday life and convey what is in your mind in a clear and simple manner. Non-finite verbs include the base form of the verb, the present participle or the gerund form of the verb (v+ing), the past participle form and the infinitive form.

Examples of Non-finite verbs

Check out the following examples to understand how you can make effective use of non-finite verbs.

  • Would you like to go with me to the party?

In the above sentence, the infinitive form of the verb is used to perform the role of the non-finite verb and it is used immediately after the finite verb ‘like’.

  • Fed up with the continuous quarrels, he walked away.
  • The trip being cancelled, I made some other plans.

In the above examples, you can see how the verb ‘fed up’ is used as a non-finite verb with no particular tense and the second sentence where the non-finite verb ‘being cancelled’ shows no agreement with the subject in the sentence.

Difference between Finite Verbs and Non-finite Verbs

Let us find out what makes finite verbs and non-finite verbs different from each other. Check out the table given below.

Finite Verbs

Non-finite Verbs

  • Finite verbs are used to represent tense, person or number.
  • Non-finite verbs have no tense.
  • Finite verbs take the simple present and the simple past form of the particular verb.
  • Non-finite verbs can be used in their infinitive, present participle or past participle form.
  • Finite verbs always agree with the subject performing the action in the sentence.
  • Non-finite verbs do not agree with the subject in a sentence.
  • Most often, the finite verb can be found next to the subject in a sentence.
  • Non-finite verbs are sometimes found in the beginning of a sentence. In certain cases, the non-finite verb is found immediately after the finite verb in the sentence.
  • A finite verb appears to be a part of an independent clause and can help the clause stand alone by making complete sense of what is being conveyed,
  • A non-finite verb often constitutes a phrase and does not make sense when considered separately.

Check Your Understanding of Non-finite Verbs

Fill in the blanks with the appropriate form of non-finite verbs in the following sentences:

1. __________ (walk) along the pavement, Robin found a stack of cash.

2. Lorry likes ________ (eat) raw vegetables.

3. ___________ (finish) the household work, Sandhya went out to buy groceries.

4. _________ (stretch) out his small hands, he begged for some food as he was hungry.

5. Not _________ (know) what to do, I asked Nivin for help.

6. Today, _______ (be) a very hot day, I decided not to go to my cousin’s house.

7. Prerna loves _______ (dance).

8. We read ________ (survive) the intellectual world.

9. Adarsh, the new marketing manager, is easy _______ (cope) with.

10. He is too thin ______ (lift) that box all the way up to the thirteenth floor.

Find out if your answers match the answers given below.

1. Walking along the pavement, Robin found a stack of cash.

2. Lorry likes to eat raw vegetables.

3. Having finished the household work, Sandhya went out to buy groceries.

4. Stretching out his small hands, he begged for some food as he was hungry.

5. Not knowing what to do, I asked Nivin for help.

6. Today, being a very hot day, I decided not to go to my cousin’s house.

7. Prerna loves to dance.

8. We read to survive the intellectual world.

9. Adarsh, the new marketing manager, is easy to cope with.

10. He is too thin to lift that box all the way up to the thirteenth floor.

Frequently Asked Questions on Non-finite Verbs

What is a non-finite verb?

A non-finite verb is most often not the main verb in the sentence. It does not show the tense or number of the verb. Non-finite verbs are multifunctional. They can take the gerund form of the verb and function as an infinitive by taking a ‘to’ along with the base form of the verb.

What is the definition of a non-finite verb?

A non-finite verb is “an infinitive or a participle and has no tense”, according to the Collins Dictionary. The Oxford Learners’ Dictionary defines a non-finite verb as “a verb form or clause does not show a particular tense, person or number”.

What is the difference between a finite verb and a non-finite verb?

The main difference between a finite verb and a non-finite verb is that a finite verb can be used to denote the tense, person and number whereas a non-finite verb cannot do so. A finite verb is always found to agree with the subject and can stand alone as an independent clause. On the other hand, a non-finite clause does not agree with the subject or take any tense. It cannot pass off as an independent clause either.

Give some examples of non-finite verbs.

The gerund form, the infinitive form and the participle form of verbs can be used as non-finite verbs. Here are some examples for you to understand better.

  • Would you like to go with me to the party?
  • Fed up with the continuous quarrels, he walked away.
  • The trip being cancelled, I made some other plans.

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