What Are Non-finite Verbs?
What Are Non-Finite Verbs?A non-finite verb (also known as a verbal) is the term used to describe a verb that is not showing tense.
In other words, it a verb form which is not acting like a verb (or, at least, the type of verb you need to form a sentence).
There are three types of non-finite verbs: gerunds, infinitives, and participles. Look at these examples (non-finite verbs shaded):
- I hate camping. (Camping is a non-finite verb. In fact, it is a gerund, i.e., a noun formed from a verb. The giveaway for a gerund is the -ing ending.)
- I want to go there. (To go is a non-finite verb. It is an infinitive, i.e., the base form of a verb. The giveaway for an infinitive is often, but not always, the to before it.)
- We ate our roasted marshmallows. (Roasted is a non-finite verb. It is a participle, a type of adjective. There is no real giveaway for a participle, but lots of participles end in -ed and -ing.)
- I started screaming at my parents for trying to send me to camp. (Screaming and trying - gerunds)
- Arriving late, I saw the other kids and they seemed to be excited. (Arriving - present participle)
- We sang songs around the campfire and toasted marshmallows. (There are no non-finite verbs in this example.)
(To send - infinitive verb)
(to be - infinitive verb)
(excited - past participle.)
Non-finite Verbs TestBelow is a quick test on non-finite verbs.
(There are lots more grammar tests here.)
Interactive TestClick on the non-finite verbs:
Finite and Non-Finite Verbs Can Look IdenticalFinite and non-finite forms of verbs can be identical. Look at these examples (non-finite verbs shaded):
- They roasted chestnuts. (Roasted is finite)
- They love roasted chestnuts.
- They laugh.
- They did laugh. (Note: This is one of those times when the infinitive form of the verb is not preceded by to.)