Difference Between Finite Verb and Nonfinite Verb

Main Difference

The main difference between finite verb and a nonfinite verb is that a finite verb is limited by the number, the person, subject and the tense whereas a nonfinite verb is not limited or shown by the number, person, and the tense.

Finite Verb vs. Nonfinite Verb

Finite verb and nonfinite verb or verbals are the two different kinds of a verb. The finite verb always acts as the main verb of a sentence or sometimes as a clause. On the other hand, nonfinite verb acts as a noun, adverbs, and adjectives, in a sentence. It never acts as a main verb.

In the process of tense making, a finite verb makes use of the present and past tense. Nonfinite verb deals with the participle in the tenses. The types of both kinds of verbs are also different. The finite verb has two types, action and linking verbs. The nonfinite verb has three types, infinitive, participle, and gerunds.

The action of the verb of both types in a sentence is also varying. A finite verb is the single main verb in a clause. In the case of nonfinite verb, the concept of a single verb is not so clear. The finite verb also shows reflections while nonfinite verb does not indicate reflections in a tense.

When it comes to the predicate of a sentence, the finite verb can complete the predicate itself. The nonfinite verb has no such relation with the. A finite verb is not directly affected by the numbers. The nonfinite verb is not directly affected by the numbers. The finite verb reflects tense, person and number but the nonfinite verb does not reflect tense, person, or number.

The finite verb acts as a verb in a tense. The nonfinite verb does not act as a verb in a tense. The finite verb is marked for tense, and the nonfinite verb is not marked for the tense. The finite verb agrees with the sentence, and nonfinite does not agree with the subject.

The link of the finite verb and nonfinite verb with the subject of a sentence also varies. A finite verb is straightly or directly linked to the subject of the sentence. The nonfinite verb is not directly related to the subject of the clause or a sentence.

Comparison Chart

Finite VerbNonfinite Verb
A kind of verb that is limited by the number, the person, subject and the tenseA kind of verb that is not limited or shown by the number, person, and the tense.
As Independent Clause
It actsIt does not act
Affected by Numbers
YesNo
As Verb
It actsIt does not act
Tense Contrast
ShowDoes not show
Function
As a main verb of a clause/sentenceAs adjectives, nouns, adverbs
Inflections
PresentNot present
Use
In Present and past tenseAs infinitive, gerunds, participles

What is a Finite Verb?

A finite verb has a proper subject off its own. It functions as the root of an independent clause, and it shows agreement with a subject. Finite verbs easily give grammatical information In many languages. This grammatical information is about gender, number, tense, person, voice, and mood.

A finite verb is also known as the main verb. A finite clause is a group of words that contains a finite verb form as its central element. A finite verb contains a subject, and it has the feature to show the tense. The finite verb always acts as a single main verb of a sentence or often as a clause.

In the process of tense making, a finite verb makes use of the present and past tense. A finite verb shows reflections and is not directly affected by the numbers. Another feature of the finite verb is that it can complete the predicate itself. The finite verb also reflects the tense, person, and number. It agrees with the sentence and is marked for tense.

A finite verb is always directly linked to the subject of the sentence. A finite verb is compulsory in every sentence. Such as play, he plays; etc. Sometimes, finite verbs include auxiliary verbs (like can, must have, be, etc) and become a group of words like: can be running and must watch, etc.

A finite verb is a verb that has a definite relation with the subject or with a noun. It is used only in the present and past tense. A finite verb is usually the main verb of a sentence and can be easily changed in accordance with the noun.

This verb is sometimes called the main verb, and it is a verb that has a subject and acts as the main verb in a given sentence. It can also be indicated as an active or passive voice. The finite verb has two types, action verbs, and linking verbs.

Examples

  • He decorated the house. (In this example, “decorated” is a finite verb.)
  • He disappeared in the decorated house. (In this example, “disappeared” is a finite verb not decorated)

What is a Nonfinite Verb?

A non-finite verb is used to describe as a verb that shows tense. We can also say that this verb is not acting as a verb. As its name reflect, the nonfinite verb is a verb that is not finite. It can not act as the root of an independent clause.

Sometimes nonfinite verbs are called “verbals.” Nonfinite tense does not act as a verb. It is used to describe a verb that is not shown by tense. It could never act as a main verb in a given sentence.

Nonfinite verbs are mainly neutral. This may be dealt with as past, present, and future tense. It also serves as a complement to a verb as verbs can be differentiated by the distinction intense and also with numbers. The nonfinite verb is not directly related to the subject of the clause or a sentence.

Nonfinite verb acts as a noun, adverbs, and adjectives, in a sentence. It mainly deals with the participle in the tenses. Also, as the verb does not indicate, reflections intense is not directly affected by the numbers. The nonfinite verb does not reflect or show the tense, person, or it does not agree with the subject of a sentence.

The nonfinite verb has three types: these types are infinitive, participles, and gerunds. Participle acts as an adjective. It is further classified into two groups which are present participles (which are formed by –ing addition to the verbs) and past participles (formed by –ed addition to regular verbs). An infinitive is a base verb or a verb as a base. It is mostly directed by “to.” An infinitive functions as an adjective, and adverb, and a noun. A gerund is formed by the addition of –ing to the verb — gerund functions as a noun.

Examples

  • I love writing. (Writing is a gerund)
  • The injured woman was brought to the hospital. (Injured is a participle)
  • He was asked to enter the hall. (Enter is an infinitive)

Key Differences

  1. Verbs that have the present and past form are finite verbs whereas verbs with any other forms are nonfinite verbs.
  2. The finite verb always performs or acts as the main verb of a sentence or often as a clause. On the contrary nonfinite verb acts as a noun, adverbs, and adjectives, in a sentence. It does not act as a main verb.
  3. Verbs with tense are known as finite verbs on the flip side verbs without tense are nonfinite verbs.
  4. A finite verb is surrounded by the present, past and future tense conversely nonfinite verbs are normally neutral.
  5. Finite verbs can stand on its own on the other hand; nonfinite verbs cannot stand on its own.
  6. Finite verbs are acting as a verb and could function as a predicate while the nonfinite verb is not acting as a verb and could not function as a predicate.
  7. A finite verb makes use of the present and past tense inversely nonfinite verb deals with the participle in the tenses.
  8. The finite verb has two types, action and linking verbs. Contrarily nonfinite verb has three types, infinitive, participle, and gerunds.
  9. As verb also shows reflections, but the nonfinite verb does not indicate as in a tense.
  10. A finite verb is directly linked to the subject of the sentence; on the contrary, the nonfinite verb is not directly related to the subject of the clause or a sentence.

Conclusion

Finite and nonfinite verbs are two different kinds of verb forms. They are different from each other in their use, function, and many other factors in a sentence.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson

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