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Grammar 07 - Identifying Finite and Non-finite Verbs
"The hurt animal was taken to the veterinary hospital." Can you spot the finite and non-finite verbs in this sentence?

Grammar 07 - Identifying Finite and Non-finite Verbs

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!

1.
Choose the correct sentence with the verbs 'was arrested' and 'speeding'.
She was for speeding arrested.
Was for speeding she arrested.
Speeding she was arrested for.
She was arrested for speeding.
'Was arrested' and 'speeding' are finite and non-finite verbs respectively. To test, see what happens to the sentence if we change to plural. 'They were arrested for speeding' would be the sentence and you can see that the finite verb has changed and the non-finite verb has not changed
2.
Choose the correct sentence with the verbs 'is' and 'stranded'.
The car still stranded is?
Is the car still stranded?
Stranded still is the car?
Still stranded the car is?
'Is' and 'stranded' are finite and non-finite verbs respectively. To test, see what happens to the sentence if we change to plural. 'Are the cars still stranded' would be the sentence and you can see that the finite verb has changed and the non-finite verb has not changed
3.
Choose the correct sentence with the verbs 'is' and 'writing'.
Favourite pastime is his writing.
Is his writing favourite pastime.
Is favourite pastime his writing.
Writing is his favourite pastime.
'Is' and 'writing' are finite and non-finite verbs respectively. To test, see what happens to the sentence if we change the tense. 'Writing was his pastime' would be the sentence and you can see that the finite verb has changed and the non-finite verb has not changed
4.
Choose the correct sentence with the verbs 'are' and 'going'.
Crazy you are going?
Your are crazy going?
Are going you crazy?
Are you going crazy?
'Are' and 'going' are finite and non-finite verbs respectively. To test, see what happens to the sentence if we change the person. 'Is he going crazy' would be the sentence and you can see that the finite verb has changed and the non-finite verb has not changed
5.
Choose the correct sentence with the verbs 'were detained' and 'questioning'.
Four persons were detained for questioning.
For questioning detained were four persons.
Four persons for questioning were detained.
Detained questioning for were four persons.
'Were detained' and 'questioning' are finite and non-finite verbs respectively. To test, see what happens to the sentence if we change the numbers. 'One person was detained for questioning' would be the sentence and you can see that the finite verb has changed and the non-finite verb has not changed
6.
Choose the correct sentence with the verbs 'are' and 'happening'.
Persons are they very happening.
They are very happening persons.
Very happening persons are they.
They persons are very happening.
'Are' and 'happening' are finite and non-finite verbs respectively. To test, see what happens to the sentence if we change to singular. 'He is a very happening person' would be the sentence and you can see that the finite verb has changed and the non-finite verb has not changed
7.
Choose the correct sentence with the verbs 'was stranded' and 'having lost'.
Having lost his purse, he was stranded.
Purse having lost, was stranded he.
His purse having lost he was stranded.
Having lost his purse was stranded he.
'Was stranded' and 'having lost' are finite and non-finite verbs respectively. To test, see what happens to the sentence if we change to the plural. 'Having lost their purse, they were stranded' would be the sentence and you can see that the finite verb has changed and the non-finite verb has not changed
8.
Choose the correct sentence with the verbs 'want' and 'to become'.
Cricketer I want to become.
I want Cricketer to become.
To become cricketer want I.
I want to become a cricketer.
'Want' and 'to become' are finite and non-finite verbs respectively. To test, see what happens to the sentence if we change the person. 'He wants to become a cricketer' would be the sentence and you can see that the finite verb has changed and the non-finite verb has not changed
9.
Choose the correct sentence with the verbs 'heard' and 'reading'.
I heard him reading a story to the children.
I heard him to the children reading a story.
Reading a story to the children I heard him.
To the children reading a story I heard him.
'Heard' and 'reading' are finite and non-finite verbs respectively. To test, see what happens to the sentence if we change the tense. 'I hear him reading a story to the children' would be the sentence and you can see that the finite verb has changed and the non-finite verb has not changed
10.
Choose the correct sentence with the verbs 'hurt' and 'was taken'.
To the veterinary hospital was taken hurt animal the.
The hurt animal to the veterinary hospital was taken.
The hurt animal was taken to the veterinary hospital.
Was taken to the veterinary hospital the hurt animal.
'Was taken' and 'hurt' are finite and non-finite verbs respectively. To test, see what happens to the sentence if we change to plural. 'The hurt animals were taken to the veterinary hospital' would be the sentence and you can see that the finite verb has changed and the non-finite verb has not changed
Author:  V T Narendra

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