## More on Finite and Non-finite verbs

December 17th, 2009 in English Grammar, English Learning, ESL, Improve English

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)

**Exercise**

**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.

**Answers **

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