Difference Between Finite and Non-Finite Verbs

Finite vs Non-Finite Verbs
 

In the field of grammar, the difference between finite and non-finite verbs is an interesting topic. What are these finite and non-finite verbs? In sentences, there are different types of verbs. Finite and non finite verbs are two such categories. Finite verbs are also known as the main verbs of a sentence or clause. They have a direct relationship to the subject and have to be conjugated in accordance to the subject and the relevant tense. However, a non-finite verb does not have a subject and does not have to be conjugated in accordance to the subject and the relevant tense. This is the main difference between a finite and non-finite verb. This article attempts to present a broader understanding of the two terms while emphasizing the differences.

What is Finite Verb?

As mentioned above, a finite verb has a subject and is directly related to it. It also has to be conjugated in accordance to the relevant tense and indicates whether the subject is singular or plural. These verbs are usually used only in the present tense and the past tense. Now, let us look at an example to understand what a finite verb is.

She lives in London.

According to the example given above, the finite verb is ‘’lives’. This is because it is the verb ‘live s’ that describes the action of the subject.

What is Non-Finite Verb?

Unlike the finite verb that is directly related to the subject, a non-finite verb does not have to be changed in accordance to the subject or the tense. In most occasions , infinitives, gerunds and participles come in the form of non-finite verbs and these can be combined with auxiliary and modal auxiliary verbs. Non-finite verbs do not directly address the action performed by the subject and can be used as nouns, adjectives and adverbs as well. Let us look at some examples.

She loves cooking.

In the example above, cooking is the non-finite verb. In this case, it has been used as a noun. These types of non-finite verbs are considered as gerunds.

I want to eat now.

In the example given above, the non-finite verb is to eat. These are called infinitives. ( to + verb)

Non-finite verbs can also come in the form of participles. In this case, they can be used as present participles or else past participles. Both are considered as non-finite verbs. Let us look at an example.

I saw him walking down the street.

In the example. ‘walking’ is a present participle that can be considered as a non-finite verb. This gives a general understanding of the usage of finite and non-finite verbs.

Difference Between Finite and Non-Finite Verbs

What is the difference between Finite and Non-Finite Verbs?

• A finite verb can be the main verb of a sentence or clause.

• It has to be in accordance with the subject in terms of tense and number.

• A finite verb is directly related to the subject of the sentence or clause.

• A finite verb is usually in the present and past tense.

• A non-finite verb does not change in accordance to the subject or tense.

• It is not directly related to the subject and can come in the form of an infinitive, gerund or a participle.

• A non-finite verb can take the form of a noun, adjective or adverb.

 

Images Courtesy:

  1. Non-finite tree by Tjo3ya (CC BY-SA 3.0)