Verbs are parts of speech that are vital to the study of the English language. They express some existence, feeling or action. Verbs that are limited by the number and person of their subjects are called main verbs and main verbs come in two kinds: finite verbs and non-finite verbs.
Finite verbs are dependent on the number and person of the subject and also on the tense. For example, ‘he reads’ and ‘I read’ are sentences where the verb ‘read’ changes according to the person, ‘he reads’ and ‘they read’ are sentences where the verb changes according to the number, and ‘he reads’ and ‘he is reading’ are sentences where the verb changes according to the tense.
Non-finite verbs, on the other hand, do not change their forms according to the person or number of the subject, and neither do they change according to the tense. Non-finite verbs are of three kinds, namely Gerund, Infinitive and Participle. A gerund is formed by adding ‘ing’ to a verb, an infinitive is formed by adding ‘to’ to the verb and a participle is formed by adding ‘-ing’, ‘-d, ‘-ed, ‘-en, ‘-t or ‘-n’ to the base verb. Look at these examples:
‘Swimming is a good way to keep fit’ is a sentence where ‘swimming’ is a gerund.
‘I’ll agree to see the doctor’ is a sentence where ‘to see’ is an infinitive.
‘I have been singing’ and ‘I have worked’ are sentences where ‘have been singing’ and ‘have worked’ are participles.
Verbs are confusing only if you don’t remember the rules. If you are confused about finite and non-finite verbs take this quiz and minimise your confusion!