Finite Verb and Non-finite Verb

In the English language, verbs are one of the most critical aspects of speech. They define actions, states, and occurrences. Depending upon the role they play in a sentence, they can be divided into two types: Finite and Non-finite verbs. To gain a complete understanding of this fundamental topic, this tutorial will walk you through what Finite and Non-finite verbs are, distinguishing characteristics, types of Non-Finite verbs and more.

What are Finite Verbs?

A finite verb is a type of verb that carries substantial grammatical information. It shows tense, mood, voice, person, gender, and number, indicating when an action, occurrence, or state of being is happening. Therefore, a finite verb changes forms in different tenses, persons, and numbers.

Let's take for example the verb 'run'. When we use it in different tenses, persons, and numbers, it changes form 'run' could become 'ran', 'runs' or 'running'.

Examples of Finite Verbs:

  • The dog is chasing its own tail.
  • Bob has completed his homework already.
  • In the above examples, 'is chasing' and 'has completed' are finite verbs as they are showing the tense (present continuous in the first sentence, present perfect in the second), and also agree with the subject in terms of number – 'The dog' (singular) and 'Bob' (singular).

    What are Non-Finite Verbs?

    Non-finite verbs, on the other hand, are a type of verb that do not show tense, mood, voice, person, gender, or number. They cannot act as the main verb in a sentence and do not change form when the tense, person or number of the subject changes. More simply, non-finite verbs act more like adjectives or adverbs than verbs.

    There are three main types of non-finite verbs – Infinitives, Gerunds, and Participles.

    Types of Non-Finite Verbs

    1. Infinitive

    Infinitives are the base form of a verb, and are preceded by the word 'to'. However, 'to' is not always a sign of an infinitive and infinitives are not always preceded by 'to'.


  • I want to eat pasta for dinner.
  • You must help him. (Bare infinitive)
  • In the examples, 'to eat' and 'help' are infinitive verbs that complement the action of the main verb.

    2. Gerund

    Gerunds are verbs that function as nouns in a sentence. They always end in '-ing'.


  • Swimming is my favorite hobby.
  • She enjoys reading books.
  • In these examples, 'Swimming' and 'reading' are gerunds. They act as subjects and objects, respectively.

    3. Participle

    Participles are verbs that function as adjectives in a sentence. There are two types of participles: Present Participle (ends in '-ing') and Past Participle (often ends in '-ed', '-d', '-t', '-en', or '-n').


  • The crying child was comforted by his mother. (Present Participle)
  • The broken glass cut my hand. (Past Participle)
  • 'Crying' and 'broken' in these sentences are modifying the nouns 'child' and 'glass' respectively, and thus are acting as adjectives.


    In conclusion, understanding the difference between finite and non-finite verbs, and identifying each in a sentence, is a critical skill for mastering English grammar. Finite verbs concern themselves with tense, mood, voice, person, gender, and number, whereas non-finite verbs do not. By understanding when and how to use each, you'll be able to construct more clear and accurate sentences. Practice figuring out which is which in sentences you encounter in reading and you'll soon grasp the concept completely!

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