1. What is a Non-finite Verb?

The verb which does not change its meaning even with the change of tense, number and person is called a Non-finite verb. Or, The verb that is not limited by person or number is called a Non-finite Verb. e.g.,

  • I tried to find the meaning.
  • I am trying to find the meaning.
  • I will try to find the meaning.
  • He tries to find the meaning.

2. Kinds of Non-finite Verbs

3. The Infinitive

The infinitive is formed by adding ‘to’ before the verb. e.g.,

  • I tried to find the truth.
  • They came here to solve the problem.

These can be with ‘to’ or without ‘to’. With ‘to’ are called To-infinitive, otherwise it is Bare infinitive.

4. Bare Infinitive or Direct Infinitive

Sometimes infinitive sits without ‘to’ before them.

I. There are some verbs after which we, in active voice, use Bare infinitive. e.g.,

please, make, know, feel, hear, see, dare, watch, need, bid, behold, let.
  • I saw him go.
  • She made him cry.
  • I need not go there.
  • She need to work hard.
  • She need not work hard.
  • Does she need to work hard?
  • Need she really work hard?
  • She dare to tell him the truth.
  • She does not dare to tell him the truth.
  • Does she dare to tell him the truth?
  • Dare she tell him the truth?

Remember! Upper listed verbs (except let) take ‘to’ before them in Passive Voice.

  • He was seen to go.
  • He was made to cry by her.

II. There are some Auxiliaries and Defective Verbs that do take Bare Infinitive. e.g.,

has, have, can, do, may, must, shall, will, should, would.
  • Can he do this?
  • I should go there.
  • He must tell the truth.

III. Some phrases contain ‘had‘ follow Bare Infinitive. e.g.,

had rather, had better, had sooner, had as soon ... as, etc
  • You had better tell the truth.

IV. Some prepositions are preceded by do, we use Bare Infinitive. e.g.,

but, except, as, better, & than
  • She did nothing but cry.
  • The boy does everything except obey his parents.
  • She did as much as say she was sorry.
  • Better leave with your bicycle.
  • I am better proficient at type than write.

IV. Couple of Phrases, like, ‘why‘ & ‘why not‘; and ‘have+object‘ formation in expressing a wish.

  • Why call her?
  • Why not call her?
  • Ravi will have his father convince that for sure.

5. Noun-Infinitive or Simple Infinitive

  • To err is human. (as a Subject)
  • To sleep is soothing. (as a Subject)
  • I have a lot of work to do. (as an Object)
  • I saw her laugh. (Complement)
  • The match is about to end. (as an Object of a preposition)
  • And now where to go? (in interrogation)
  • To think that she would do so! (in exclamation)
  • Stupid man! to imagine that he could ever act in that way. (in exclamation)

6. Gerundial Infinitive

  • The doctor came to see the patient.
  • We eat to live.
  • She cooks to make me feel better.
  • I am ready to go.
  • Girls are eager to dance.
  • I am sorry to say this.
  • He has room to let.
  • I am, to tell you the truth, quite tired of this job.

Remember! If it is a noun clause then it is a Simple Infinitive & if it is an adjective or adverbial clause then it is a Gerundial Infinitive.

7. Split Infinitive

When a word sits between to and the verb, it is called a Split Infinitive. e.g.,

  • Passengers are requested to quickly deboard the train.
  • It is essential to thoroughly clean the machine after each use.

This usage indicates bad English. Better write,

  • Passengers are requested to deboard the train quickly.
  • It is essential to clean the machine thoroughly after each use.

8. Continuous Infinitive

Some verbs and modal auxiliaries are used with Continuous Infinitives. e.g.,

seem, appear, happen, consider, believe, hope, report, think, happen, pretend, arrange, say, must be, may be, might be, should be, could be, etc
  • She seems to be gaining weight.
  • He may be studying in his room.
  • He must be leaving tonight with his family.

9. Perfect Infinitive

I. If the expressing Infinitive is the earlier action to the finite verb, we should use Perfect Infinitive. e.g.,

  • She admitted to have made the mistake.

II. Some verbs take Perfect Infinitives after them in certain needs. e.g.,

admit, appear, allege, believe, confess, claim, deny, learn, recollect, remember, regret, require, report, say, seem, suppose, suspect, understand, etc.
  • She appears to have been rich earlier.
  • She appears to be poor now.
  • I believe to have said this to you earlier.
  • I can not deny to have met you before.


11. The Participles

Participles are kinds of verbs that possess the quality of both Adjective and Verb. e.g.,

  • S-man shot the running deer.
  • Dara Singh stopped the moving bus.

12. Kinds of Participles

Participles are of Two types. I. Present Participles, & II. Past or Perfect Participles

Present Participles

Verbs that take –ing with them and express an incomplete sense of action or continuity are called Present Participle. e.g.,

  • There were three sleeping babies in that woman’s lap.
  • It is a charming falls. (as an attributive adjective)
  • The falls looks charming. (as an predicative adjective)
  • Do not lean out of the moving train.
  • Barking dogs seldom bite.
  • God willing, we shall overcome the bad time soon. (as nominative absolute)
  • The dinner being over, we directly left for our hotel. (as nominative absolute)
  • I saw her doing it.
  • Having done the work, I left the office.

→ See a few more examples

Remember! Present particle can’t be used to express an action if it doesn’t coincide with the finite verb. e.g.,

  • I left for Delhi and reaching there on the very next day. (Incorrect)
  • I left for Delhi and reached there on the very next day. (Correct)

Past Participles

Verbs that take –ed, -d, -t, -en, or -n with them and express a complete sense of action are called Past Participle. e.g.,

  • We helped a wounded soldier.
  • This track of song is a heard one.
  • This is a burnt pepper.
  • Broken glass ofen wounds.
  • Shown programs are generally retelecast at nights.
  • This done (having been done), we all left the workshop. (as nominative absolute)

→ See a few more examples

13. Unattached Participles or Unrelated Participles

A noun or pronoun must be assigned for a participle to get qualified to. e.g.,

  • Writing the letter she posted it.
  • While we were walking in the garden my hat dropped.
  • As they were coming home, their car met an accident.
  • Honestly speaking, you have a good taste in literacy.
  • Regarding the proposal, have you anything to say?

→ See a few more examples

How to correct an Unattached / Unrelated / Misrelated Participle

The ways of corrections are elaborately discussed Here.

14. The Gerunds

A Gerund is a word that takes -ing with it and it is made from a verb and it always behaves like a Noun. So it can be used as the subject of a sentence, or the object of a sentence, or, the object of a preposition, or as a complement, or even, as a part of a compound noun. Carefully examine the examples given below.

  • Swimming is good for health. (Subject)
  • Never stop swimming. (Object)
  • I am fond of swimming. (Object of a preposition)
  • The butterfly is a capital swimming. (Complement)
  • An Olympic swimming pool holds about 2.5 million litres of water. (Compound noun)

Remember! In ‘a swimming pool‘, it is Participle Adjective, not Gerund, which means a pool for swimming.

15. Gerund can take object

  • I am fond of reading novels.
  • We like playing cards.

Remember! Here are some common verbs that are followed by gerunds:
Admit, Anticipate, Avoid, Consider, Delay, Deny, Discuss, Enjoy, Finish, Imagine, Mind, Miss, Postpone, Practice, Recommend, Regret, Risk, Stop, Suggest, Understand, etc.

16. Use of Gerund with Possessives

A gerund is used with various possessive cases. Below are a few such examples. Go through carefully.

  • I am aware of the thief’s coming here. (Singular Noun)
  • I am aware of the thievs coming here. (Plural Noun)
  • I do not like his coming here. (Singular Pronoun)
  • I do not like their coming here. (Plural Pronoun)
  • I like the boy’s playing here. (Singular Noun)
  • I like the boys playing here. (Plural Noun with -s ending)
  • Here is a chance of the water freezing. (Non living Noun)
  • I like Kamal’s playing here. (Correct) (How Kamal plays)
  • I like Kamal plying here. (Correct) (Kamal’s play)

17. Gerundive Participles

18. Some phrasal verbs take direct gerund after them

look forward to, with a view to, with an eye to, be direced to, be brone to, be addicted to, be taken to, be inclined to, accustomed to, object to, come to, prefer to, confident of, etc.
  • They were looking forward to seeing me.
  • They came here with a view to seeing me.
  • With an eye to reaching here quickly, they have hired a private cab.

See a few more examples

19. Fused Participles

Sometimes, in a sentence, a noun fuses with an immediate participle, in such a scenario we call the participle a Fused Participle. e.g.,

  • The children wanting to play is absolutely normal.
  • Mouse tending to cut clothes is a universal problem.
  • Hardly had I aware of him performing that night.

20. Verbal Noun

If a verbal in -ing sits between the definite article and the preposition of, we call that verbal a Verbal Noun.

  • The declining of the Mughals had started before Aurangzeb died. (Verbal Noun)
  • Declining the Mughals had started before Aurangzeb died. (Gerund)
  • I am engaged in the improving of my proficiency in English. (Verbal Noun)
  • Imporving my proficiency in English keeps me engaged now a days. (Gerund)