Finite and non-finite verbs

These lessons are based on Macmillan English Ferry Class 8 Textbook and Workbook.

Finite verbs are verbs that have different forms in different tenses. Finite verbs change their form when there is a change in the number or person of the subject.

Examples are: come, work, is, am, break, stop etc.

Study the examples given below.

  • My brother serves in the army. (Serve is a finite verb because it becomes serves when the subject is a singular noun.)
  • My brother served in the army. (The finite verb serve becomes served in the simple past tense.)

Non-finites

There are three types of non-finites: gerunds, infinitives and participles

Gerunds

Gerunds end in –ing. Examples are: singing, dancing, running, working, looking etc.

Infinitives

Infinitives are the first form of the verb. They are usually used with the marker ‘to’. Examples are: to sing, to dance, to run, to work, to look etc.

Participles

There are two types of participles – present participles and past participles

Present participles also end in –ing. Examples are: reading, writing, teaching, listening, singing etc.

Past participles usually end in –ed, or –en. Note that there are several exemptions to this rule.

Examples are: stopped, looked, worked, earned, played, broken, written etc.

As you can see, both present participles and gerunds end in –ing. However, there is an important difference between them.
Gerunds serve the same purpose as nouns. They can be used as the subject or object of the verb. They can also be used as the object of the preposition.

Examples are given below.

  • Singing is his passion. (Here the gerund singing acts as the subject of the verb is.)
  • I enjoy reading. (Here the gerund reading acts as the object of the verb enjoy.)
  • I am interested in cooking. (Here the gerund cooking acts as the object of the preposition in.)

Present participles are mainly used as adjectives. They are also used to form continuous tenses.

  • Barking dogs seldom bite. (Here the present participle barking acts as an adjective modifying the noun dogs.)
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Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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