Finite and Non-Finite Verbs

Finite Verbs

Finite Verbs are those verbs that have a definite relation with the subject or noun. These verbs are usually the main verb of a clause or sentence and can be changed according to the noun. They are used only in present and past tense. They can be indicative of passive or active voice and also of number (singular or plural).

She walks home. - Here we see that the finite verb is walks and the pronoun is 'she'.

She walked home. - Here we can see how the verb changed/modified to change the tense of the sentence.

Non-Finite Verbs

These verbs cannot be the main verb of a clause or sentence as they do not talk about the action that is being performed by the subject or noun. They do not indicate any tense, mood or gender. They are used as nouns, adverbs and adjectives. They are also used to form non-finite clauses which are simply dependent clauses that use non-finite verbs.

He loves camping in the woods. - Here the non-finite verb is camping and it is used as a noun. These kind of non-finite verbs are called Gerunds.

I need to go to sleep. - Here the non- finite verb phrase is to sleep, it is acting as a noun. Non-finite verbs that use ‘to’ before them are called Infinitives.

The sleeping dog caused a delay. - The nonfinite verbs that have ‘-ing’ or ‘-ed’ as suffixes and cause the verb to come an adjective are called Participles.