Non-Finite Verbs and Its Types With Examples & Rules In English

Non-Finite Verbs and Its Types With Examples & Rules In English

Verbs and their types

Explain and Examples of Finite and Non Finite verb

Study the following sentences carefully

(i) I have given him money.

(ii) I like to give him money today.

In the sentence (i) the verb ‘have given’ has ‘I’ as its subject. The verb ‘have given’ is limited by the number and person of its subject. It is, therefore, called a finite verb.

In sentence (ii) ‘like’ is a finite verb. But ‘to give’ has no separate subject and is not limited by number and person. It is, therefore, called a Non-finite verb.

In simple words, verbs which change according to subject & tense are called Finite verb. Some example are shown below.

  • I want to play cricket.
  • He wants to play cricket.
  • He wanted to play cricket.

In simple words, verbs which does not change are called Non–Finite verbs. ‘to play‘ is a non-finite verb.

Forms of Non-Finite Verbs

The Non-finite verbs are divided into three forms.

  1. Infinitives
  2. Gerunds
  3. Participles

1. Infinitive

Infinitive is a kind of noun with certain features of a verb. ‘To’ is used with Infinitives. However, it is omitted sometimes.

Forms of Infinitive

As used in the following sentences

(i) She comes here to study. (Purpose)

(ii) Everyone desires to be admired. (Passive voice)

(iii) He admitted to have abused him. (Perfect Infinitive)

(iv) He admitted to have been arrested last year. (Perfect passive)

(v) He seems to be running out of money. (Continuous infinitive)

(vi) He admitted to have been spying for the enemy for sometime. (Perfect continuous, time expression)

(vii) Everyone desires to be popular. (‘Be’ as an ordinary verb)

(viii) To err is human. (Subject)

Rules of Infinitive

Rule 1

(A) (Verb/Adjective/Noun) + Infinitive

(i) She comes here to study. (Active voice)

(ii) Nobody likes to be cheated. (Passive voice)

(iii) Everyone desires to be rich. (No verb)

(iv) To err is human. (It is human to err). (Subject)

(B) Some of the verbs and adjectives are followed by infinitives.

Agree, happy, desire, need, dare, hope, expect, decede, want, wish, refuse, eager, fall, glad, happy, herd, easy.

(C) How + Infinitive

When Infinitive is used to express manner, the full forms of Infinitive is ‘how to’. The verbs implying manner/method are

‘know, learn, explain, teach, discover, wonder, show, ask, remember, forget etc. For example

(v) He knows how to write English.

(vi) He taught him how to cook food.

Rule 2 : Differentiate between ‘To’ and ‘For’

Study the following sentence carefully.

I went to see him. [Correct (purpose)]

I went for seeing him. (Incorrect)

‘for seeing’ cannot be used for purpose implying future because

(A) For + Gerund is used for actions showing cause. For example

(i) He will punish you for breaking the pen.

(ii) He punished you for coming late.

(B) For + Gerund is used for showing purpose for which the subject is used. For example,

(i) This book is to read. (Say for ‘reading’)

(ii) This machine is to measure height. (Say for measuring)

(iii) The house is to let. (Correct)

(C) For + Noun is used for purpose in place of to + verb when verb is made to serve as noun. For example

(i) We come here for a drive.

(ii) Sameer requested for a rest.

(iii) Esha went for a walk.

(D) To + Gerund is also used with certain verbs and phrases. For example

(i) She is used to swimming at dawn.

(ii) Esha came here with a view to studying.

Rule 3 : Direct Infinitive

In certain cases the infinitive without ‘to’ is used. We may call it infinitive without ‘to’ or Direct Infinitive.

Direct Infinitive is used after.

(A) ‘Need’ and ‘Dare’ in the negative and interrogative sentences only when they are used as auxiliaries. For Example

(i) You need to work hard. (Affirmative)

(ii) You do not need to work hard. (Negative as ordinary)

(iii) He need not work hard. (Negative as auxilary)

(iv) Do you need to work there now? (Interrogative as ordinary)

(v) Need he work there now? (Interrogative as auxiliary)

(vi) He dares to go outside in dark. (Affirmative)

(vii) He does not dare to go in dark. (Negative as ordinary)

(viii) He dare not go in dark. (Negative as auxiliary)

(ix) Does he dare to go in dark? (Interrogative as ordinary)

(x) Dare he go in dark?  (Interrogative as auxiliary)

Note : s‘ is note used with dare/need as auxiliary verbs.

(B) ‘Direct Infinitive’ is used after the verbs – ‘let, bid, make, know, help, feel, hear, watch, see‘.

‘Direct Infinitive’ is used only when these verbs are used in active voice (not in passive voice except the verb ‘let’.) The verb ‘let‘ is followed by direct infinitive both in active & passive voice. For example

(i) I made the student write an essay.

(ii) The student was made to write an essay. (Passive voice)

(iii) The teacher let him go out.

(iv) He was let go out by the teacher. (Passive voice)

(C) The following phrases are also used with Direct Infinitive ‘has better, had rather, would rather, would better, as soon, sooner than (prefer)’. For example

(i) I would/had better leave your house at once.

(ii) She would/had rather stay than leave now.

(iii) They had sooner stay than leave.

(iv) I would as soon stay at home as go. (with equal willingness)

(D) Direct  Infinitive is used with, ‘But, Than , and, except, as, or. For Example

(i) He did nothing but cry. (Correct)

(ii) She did no more than sleep the whole day. ( Correct )

(iii) She had nothing to eat except to drink water. ( Remove ‘To’ )

(E) Direct Infinitive is used with phrases. ‘Why not & Why’. For Example

(i) Why not rest now ?

(ii) Why stay here. ?

(F) Have + Object (Used in the sense of ‘wish’)  is followed by Direct Infinitive. For Example

(i) She will have me recite this person.

(ii) I will have him believe it.

(G) Won’t + have + object + gerund (Used in the sense of won’ t allow ).For Example

(i) I won’t have you talking like that.

(ii) I won’t have you staying at Meerat.

Rule 4 : Perfective Infinitive

(A) Perfect Infinitive should be used if the action expressed by the Infinitive before the action of the finite verb. For Example

(i) Yesterday I intended to have gone to Delhi. (Incorrect, say ‘to go’ )

(ii) He admitted to have uttered these words against me. (Correct)

In the sentence (ii) the action ‘uttered’ is prior to the action of the finite verb. Hence, the use of perfect Infinitive is justified.

(B) The verbs where perfect infinitive may be, if needed, used.

‘Deny, Confess, Admit, Recollect, Recall, Remember, Regret, Claim, Seem, Appear, Report, Believe, Understand, Say, Allege, Suspect, Learn, Require, suppose’  etc. For Example

(i) He appears to have been rich earlier.

(ii) She denied to have seen him Yesterday.

Rule 5

Use of Infinitive after Adjective and Noun in active voice should be taken care of .

(A) Adjective ‘ enough’  is used after adjective or ‘very’ before adjective when  infinitive expresses affirmative meaning.

‘too’ is used before adjective when infinitive expresses negative meaning. For Example

(i) She is too ill  to go out.  (Can not go out)

(ii) She is good enough to help me. (can help me)

(B) Noun preposition should be used.if required, after the infinitive when the Infinitives qualifies the noun. For Example

(i) These days no airlines is safe to travel. ( Use ‘by’ after travel )

(ii) I have no house to live. ( Use ‘ In’ after ‘live’ )

Rule 6 Split Infinitive

‘To’ should not be separated from its own verb by inserting any adverb between the two, The Split Infinitive is grammatically wrong. For Example

(i) You are required at least to obey your parents. (Correct)

(ii) You are requested to kindly stay for sometimes. ( Use ‘kindly’ to stay )

Rule 7 Continuous Infinitive 

Continuous infinitive can be used within the following verbs and Modals auxiliaries.

(a) Appear, seem, believe, consider, think, report, happen, arrange, hope, pretend, say, etc.

(b) May be, might be, should be, could be, must be etc. For Example

(i) I happened to be sitting with my daughters.                      When I was sitting……..

(ii) She  is reported to be working at Chandigarh.                  It is reported…….

(iii) She may be sleeping now.                                                Perhaps is sleeping

2. Gerund

Gerund is a verb from which functions as a noun. It is formed by adding ‘ing’ with a verb. It is used in place of infinitive in certain case. For Example

(i) I do not like riding. ( Direct Gerund )

(ii) She is used to swimming. ( to + gerund )

(iii) Smoking  is not good for health. ( Subject )

Note:  Infinitives and gerunds are easily replaceable. However, certain rules have to be followed  for replacing infinitives & gerunds by each other. For Example

(i) I like to swim  today.

(ii) I like swimming.

Difference between participle and gerund

Gerund is a kind of noun like infinitive. Participle is a verb / adjective. For Example

(i) I saw him smoking  in the cinema hall.   (Participle)

(ii) Smoking is injurious to health.  (Gerund)

(iii) He was punished for playing carelessly. (Gerund showing ‘reason’)

Rules of Gerund

Rule 1 Preposition + Gerund

Gerund is used after certain verbs / phrases that are followed by appropriate preposition instead of ‘to’.

In case of for + gerund refer to rule 2 of Infinitives.

Desirous of           –       intent of            –          justified in

Disqualify from     –       bent on             –          hesitate in

Refrain from         –       keen om           –           a hope of

Prevent from        –       aim at               –           hope to (infinitive)

Debar from           –       confident in      –           harm in

Restrain from       –       insist on            –           assist in

Prohibit from        –       persist in           –           a chance of

Dissuade from     –       succeed in        –           fond of

Abstain from        –       successful in     –           take/ feel pleasure in

Point in                –       sense in            –            give pleasure to (infinitive)

deter from           –        interested in

For Example

(i) I prohibited him to go here. ( Use ‘from going’  in place of ‘to go’ )

(ii) She is bent to harm her friend. (Use ‘an harming’ in place  ‘to harm’)

Rule 2 Direct Gerund

(A) The following phrases and certain verbs are followed by direct gerund.

‘Avoid, Mind, Detest, Can’t help, Can’t bear, Resist, Enjoy, Stop, Start, Postpone, Defer, Worth, Prefer, Consider, Practise, Finish, Risk, Pardon, Excuse, Forgive, It is no / use, Propose, Miss, Imagine, Regret, Means, Anticipate, Love, Like, Hate, Dislike.’

(B) Phrasal verbs are also followed by direct gerunds such as. ‘give up, put off, set about ‘ etc. For Example

(i) She can not help to tell a lie. (Use ‘telling’ in place of ‘to tell’ )

(ii) We stopped to write.  ( Use ‘ writing’ in place of ‘to write’)

(iii) It is no use / good waiting for her. ( Correct)

(iv) You should avoid to spend extra money. ( Use ‘spending’ in place of ‘to spend’ )

Rule 3 To + Gerund

The use of to + gerund correctly with ‘be used to, accustomed to, averse to, with a view to, addicted to, devoted to, in addition to, look forward to, object to, owning to, given to, taken to, disposed to, prone to. For Example

(i) He is addicted to smoke heavily.  ( Use ‘smoking’ in place of ‘smoke’ )

(ii) She used to dance before her marriage. ( Correct habit in the past )

(iii) We go there with a view to study Science. ( Use ‘studying’ for ‘study’ )

Rule 4

The noun or pronoun before a gerund ( Verbal Noun ) should be in the possessive case. For Example

(i) I don’t like him wasting time.  (Use ‘his’ in place of ‘him’)

(ii) I saw him wasting time. ( ‘him’ is correct ‘ wasting ‘ in participle)

3. Participle

Participle is the form of a verb that ends with ing, ed, t.

(A) It is used both as verb (progressive) and an adjective.

Present Burn
Past Burnt
Past Participle Burnt
Present Participle Burning
Perfect Participle Having Burning

For Example

(i) We found a candle burning.  (Verb, Present Participle)

(ii) She returned disappointed. (Past Participle)

(B)  Past Participle is used as passive voice of present participle. It is also used to make perfect participle. For Example

(i) A burning candle        –        That is burning    (Adjective)

(ii) A burnt paper             –        That is burnt        (Adjective)

(iii) Having been burnt    –        Passive voice       (Voice)

Rules of Participle

Rule 1

Participle Clause / Absolute Phrase ( Nominative Absolute )

A participle is used as participle clause. It is kind of clause containing participle in place of a finite verb.

Absolute Phrase / Nominative Absolute It is kind of participle with a Noun / Pronoun going before it. For Example

(i) Surprised at the news I rushed to the airport.  ( Past Participle, Passive Voice )

(ii) Walking in the garden I came  across an old friend.    ( Present Participle, Voice )

(iii) The sun having risen,  we left the town. ( Absolute Phrase )

Rule 2

Participles can be changed into following clauses.

(A) Adverb Clause of Time.

(B) Adverb Clause of Condition.

(C) Adverb Clause of Reason

(D) Adverb Clause of Contrast

(E) Adjective Clause

(F) Co-ordinate Clause

(A) Adverb Clause of Time (While, Having, on)

(i) As I was wandering in the street, I met my  old friend.

(While) wandering in the street I met my old friend.

(ii) When she saw me, she called me.

(On) seeing me she called me.

(iii) After I had passed High school, I got a job.

Having passed High school I got a job.

(B) Adverb Clause of Condition (By, without, but for)

(i) If you go out, you will catch cold.

By going out you will catch cold.

(ii) If you don’t work hard, you will not pass.

(Without) working hard you will not pass.

(iii) If you had not worked hard, you would have failed.

(But) for working hard you would have failed.

(C) Adverb Clause of Reason  ( owning to, because of, on account of ) For Example

(i) Since she was late, she was punished.

Being late she was punished.

(ii) As she ran very fast, she was able to overtake me.

On account of running very fast she was able to overtake me.

(D) Adverb Clause of Contrast ( Inspite of, despite, notwithstanding, for all ) For Example

(i) Although she came later, she was not punished.

Inspite of coming late she was not punished.

(ii) Though she was punished, she did not feel sorry.

Inspite of being punished she did not feel sorry.

(E) Adjective Clause

(i) I saw a girl who was singing a song.

I saw a girl singing a song.

(iv) A burning candle fell off the table.

A candle that was burning fell off the table.

(iii) The book which was presented to me by my mother is very interesting.

The book presented to me by my mother is very interesting.

(F) Co-ordinate Clause

A participate can replace a co-ordinate clause.

(i) He returned and he was smiling.

He returned smiling.

(ii) She went out and she was disappointed.

She went out disappointed.

Rule 3

Present participle should be used only to express an action which coincides with the action of the finite verb. For Example

(i) He left for Mumbai on Monday, reaching there on Tuesday.  ( ‘Reaching’ is  not the correct action )

He left for Mumbai on Monday, and reached there on Tuesday. ( Correct )

Rule 4 Unrelated / Misrelated Participles

When the participle clause / phrase is not followed by a subject of its own, the participle is called misrelated / unrelated participles. For Example

(i) Wandering in the street a dog bit him. ( Wrong )

(ii) Wandering in the street he was bitten by a dog. ( Correct )

Note : ‘Wandering’ should have a proper  subject ‘he’ and not ‘ a dog ‘.

How to Correct a Misrelated Participles ?

Misrelated Participles an be corrected in the three ways.

1. Expand the participle into a clause.

2. Bring the proper subject immediately after the participle. ( By changing voice )

3. Place the proper subject before the participle. (Only before ‘being ‘ and ‘having’ )

For Example

(i). Walking along the road a scooter knocked him down.  ( Incorrect )

  • While he was walking along the road a scooter knocked him down. ( Correct )
  • Walking along the road he was knocked down by a scooter. ( Correct )

(ii) Being cloudly we enjoyed picnic. (Incorrect)

  • As it was cloudly, we enjoyed picnic. ( Correct )
  • It being cloudly we enjoyed picnic. ( Correct )

(iii) Possessing huge wealth people do not like him.  ( Incorrect )

  • Althogh he possesses huge wealth, people do not like him. ( Correct )
  • Possessing huge wealth he is not liked by people. ( Correct )

Rule 5

However, participles such as ‘regarding, concerning, considering, speaking’, do not refer to any particular subject. They can do without agreement with any noun or pronoun. For Example

(i) Considering his problems he was advised to leave Jalgaon. ( Correct )

(ii) Roughly speaking two hundred persons died in the earthquake. ( Correct )

In these sentences the unexpressed subject is indefinite. Therefore, participle need not be in agreement with the noun or Pronoun it refers to.

Difference between Finite Verbs and Non Finite Verbs

Finite Verbs Non Finite Verbs
Finite verbs forms act as a verb. Non finite verbs do not act as a verb.
Finite verbs act as the main verb of a sentence or a clause. Non finite verbs acts as nouns, adjectives and adverbs.
Finite verbs indicate number, person and tense. Non finite verbs do not indicate number, person and tense.
Finite verbs are used in the present tense and past tense. Non finite verbs are infinitive, gerunds and participles.

All the best for your upcoming exam!

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