Read the sentences given below:
I heard him singing.
Driven by rain, we took shelter under a tree.
It being a small cot, he couldn’t sleep on it.
The number of clauses in a sentence is equal to the number of finite verbs in it. Each of the sentences given above consists of only one finite verb. Therefore, each one of them has only one clause.
A finite verb is a word like break, work, broke, sing, write etc. Finite verbs change their form according to the number and person of the subject. For instance, when the subject is a singular noun, the finite verb break changes its form into breaks. Finite verbs are also governed by the tenses. For instance, when the sentence is in the simple past tense, the finite verb break changes its form into broke. Similarly, work changes into worked and sing changes into sang in the past tense.
Non-finite verbs do not change their form according to the number and person of the subject. Examples are gerunds, participles and infinitives.
I like reading.
He likes reading.
Here the verb like is finite because it changes its form according to the number and person of the subject. The gerund reading is non-finite because it does not change its form according to the number and person of the subject.
Reading books is my hobby. (Reading – non finite; is – finite)
Reading books is his hobby.
Having read the book I returned it to the library. (Having read – non finite; returned – finite)
Find out the finite and non-finite verbs in the sentences given below:
1. He gave me a chair to sit.
2. It was a sight to see.
3. I want to buy some clothes.
4. Barking dogs seldom bite.
5. He is about to leave.
6. It is time to start.
7. He was wearing a torn shirt.
8. He had his shoes polished.
9. They got the roof repaired.
10. Finding the door open I went inside.
1. Finite – gave; non-finite – to sit
2. Finite – was; non-finite – to see
3. Finite – want; non-finite – to buy
4. Finite – bite; non-finite – barking
5. Finite – is; non-finite – to leave
6. Finite – is; non-finite – to start
7. Finite – was wearing; non-finite – torn
8. Finite – had; non-finite – polished
9. Finite – got; non-finite – repaired
10. Finite – went; non-finite – finding