Javatpoint Logo
Javatpoint Logo

Non Finite Verb

Non-finite verbs are those that do not change according to tense, person and the number of a sentence. In contrast a finite verb changes according to person, number, and tense of a sentence. Basically, non-finite verbs are infinitive forms with and without 'to', gerund (-'ing' forms), and participle forms without auxiliary verbs before them.

Non Finite Verb

Note: Non-finite verbs do not serve as action verbs in a sentence. They are different.

There are three forms of non-finite verbs:

  1. Infinitives
  2. Gerunds
  3. Participles: present (V1+ing), past (V3), perfect (having + V3)

1. Infinitives:

The infinitive verbs are the basic form of a verb that do not serve as an action of a sentence. On the contrary, they express an action as an idea or concept and are always preceded by 'to'. The details of infinitives are given below through examples:

Look at the below sentences:

  1. He wants to go.
  2. He tried to find fault with us.

In the above sentences, 'to go' and 'to find' are infinitive forms.

Now look at the below sentences:

  1. To err is human. ( In this sentence, 'to err' is infinitive, and here it is playing the role of subject of the verb 'is' as a noun)
  2. Girls love to sing. ( In this sentence, 'to sing' is infinitive, and here it is playing the role of the object of the verb 'love' as a noun)
  3. To respect our elders is our duty. (In this sentence, 'to respect' is infinitive, and here it is playing the role of the subject of the verb 'is' as a noun. But as a verb, it also takes an object)
  4. They refused to obey the orders. (In this sentence, 'to obey' is the infinitive and here it is playing the role of the object of the verb 'refused' as a noun. But like a verb, it also takes an object.
  5. Many men desire to make money quickly. (In this sentence, 'to make' is the infinitive and plays the role of the object of the verb 'desire' as a noun. But like a verb desire, it also takes an object and is modified by an adverb.

Note: Through the above sentences, it is clear that the infinitive is a verb-noun.

Sometimes we also used infinitive without 'to' after certain verbs (bid, let, make, need, dare, see, hear).


  • Bid him come here.
  • I let her go there.
  • Let them sit here.
  • He will not let me go.
  • Make them stand.
  • She made them run.
  • We need not go today.
  • They need not do it.
  • He saw her do it.
  • You heard him cry.

The infinitive without 'to' is also used after the modal verbs; will, would, shall, may, might, can, could, and must.


  • Ram will pay the bill.
  • Students should work harder.
  • John can speak five languages.
  • He must come to the office at nine tomorrow.

Without 'to' infinitives can also be used after had better, had rather, would rather, would rather, sooner than, rather than; as

  • She had better ask permission.
  • I had rather play than work.
  • I would rather die than suffer so.

Uses of Infinitives

The infinitive, with or without adjuncts, may be used as a noun-

1. As the subject of a verb

To find fault is easy.

To err is human.

To reign is worth ambition.

2. As the object of a transitive verb

They do not mean to play.

Sohan likes to play Cricket.

3. As the complement of a verb

Her greatest pleasure is to write.

His custom is to worship daily.

4. As the object of a preposition

He had no choice but (except) to go.

The speaker is about to conclude.

5. As an objective complement

I saw him come.

Note: When the infinitive is used, like a noun, it is called the simple infinitive.

Some more uses of infinitives

To qualify a verb, usually to express purpose; as,

He called to visit the school ( for the purpose of visiting the school).

We eat to live. (Purpose)

I came to meet my friend. (Purpose)

He wept to see the disaster caused by the earthquake. (Cause)

To qualify an Adjective; as,

Bananas are good to eat.

This medicine is bitter to take.

The students are curious to learn.

John is too lazy to do any work.

To qualify a noun; as,

This is not the time to sleep.

You will have cause to repent.

He is a boy to be praised.

Here is a house to rent.

This house is to let.

To qualify a sentence; as,

To tell the truth, I quite forget my promise.

He was petrified, so to speak.

The infinitive may be active or passive. When it is active, it is in a present or a perfect form and merely names the act, or it can represent progressive or continued action.


Present: to write

Present continuous: to be writing

Perfect: to have written

Perfect continuous: to have been writing


In passive, the infinitive has a present and a perfect form.

Present: to be written

Perfect: to have been written

2. Gerund

When V1+ing is used as a subject or an object (noun), it is called a gerund.


  • Singing is his favorite pastime. (In this sentence, the word 'singing' is formed from the verb sing by adding 'ing'. Here it is used as a subject of a verb, and so do the work of a noun. Therefore it is a gerund.
  • Smoking is injurious to health.
  • Drinking milk is useful to health.
  • Walking is good for health.
  • Playing cards is not allowed here.

As an object:

  • I like reading (here gerund like a noun, is the object of a verb but, as a verb, it also takes an object)
  • She is fond of listening

Both the gerund and the infinitive have the force of a noun and a verb and have the same uses. Thus in many sentences, either of them may be used without any special difference in meaning; as,

  • Teach me to write.
  • Teach me
  • To give is better than to receive.
  • Giving is better than receiving.
  • To see is to believe.
  • Seeing is believing.

There are also compound gerunds which are formed by placing a past participle after the gerunds of 'have' and 'be'.

  • I heard of your having gained a prize.
  • We were tired on account of having run so far.
  • They were charged with having supported
  • He is desirous of being admired.

A transitive verb also has the gerund forms:


Present: writing

Perfect: having written


Present: being written

Perfect: having been written

Gerund and present participle both end with '-ing', but there are differences

The gerund has the force of a noun and a verb; it is a Verbal noun.


  • He is fond of playing
  • The old man was tired of walking.
  • We were prevented from watching the movie.
  • Seeing is believing.

The present participle has the force of an adjective and a verb; it is a verbal adjective.


  • Taking exercise, he gained health.
  • Walking along the woods, he noticed a dead cobra.
  • Seeing, she believed.

Gerund as an ordinary noun:


  • The indiscriminate reading of poems is injurious. (Here, 'reading' is used as an ordinary noun).

Note: 'the' is used before and 'of' after it.

Some more examples are given below:

  • The making of the poster is in hand.
  • The time of the playing of the children has come.
  • Adam tempted to the eating of the fruit.
  • The middle phase of life seems to be the most advantageous for the gaining of wisdom.

Some compound nouns as:

Walking stick, frying pan, hunting whip, fencing- stick, writing-table

(Here walking, frying, hunting, fencing, writing are gerunds)

The meaning of that compound nouns are

A stick for walking, a pan for frying, a whip for hunting, etc

Before gerund, either the possessive case or the objective case of the noun or pronoun can be used before gerunds.


  • I hope you will excuse my leaving early. (here the word preceding the gerund is in the possessive case)
  • I hope you will excuse me leaving early. ( here the word preceding the gerund is in the objective case)

Note: Above both sentences are correct. The possessive is more formal, and it is less usual in everyday speech.

Some more such examples are below:

  • We celebrated at his/him being promoted.
  • I insist on your/you being present.
  • Do you mind my/me reading here?
  • All depends on John's/John passing the exam.
  • I disliked the chancellor's/chancellor asking me personal questions.
  • The accident was due to the driver's/driver disregarding the signals.

Uses of the Gerund

Being a verb-noun, a gerund may be used as:

i). Subject of a verb


Seeing is believing.

Hunting tigers is not allowed in our country.

ii) Object of a transitive verb


Stop running.

Children love making mud castles.

I like writing novels.

He contemplated marrying his cousin.

iii) Object of a preposition


I am tired of walking.

He is fond of reading.

They were punished for telling a lie.

He was distracted from watching the cartoon.

I have an aversion to fishing.

iv) Complement of a verb


Seeing is believing.

What I most hate is smoking.

v) Absolutely:

Playing cards being his aversion, we did not play bridge.

3. The participle

In a sentence, a participle functions partly as a verb and partly as an adjective.

  • Hearing the noise, the child woke up. (here 'hearing' qualifies the noun 'child' so functions as an adjective and it is formed from the verb 'hear' so the word 'hearing' takes the nature of both verb and adjective and it is a participle)

Some examples of present participles are:

  • We met a boy carrying a bag of chocolates
  • Loudly knocking at the gate, he demanded admission.
  • The girl, thinking all was safe, attempted to cross the road.
  • They rushed into the field, and foremost, fighting

Note: Above all, sentences end with '-ing' and express the actions as going on or incomplete or imperfect. Therefore they are present participle.

Past participle expresses a complete action or state of the thing spoken of.

Some examples of past participle:

  • Blinded by a dust storm, they fell into disorder.
  • Deceived by his friends, he lost all hope.
  • Time misspent is time lost.
  • Driven by hunger, he stole some food.
  • We saw a few trees laden with mangoes.

Note: Above all sentences are ending with -ed, -d, -t, -en, and -n. so they are past participle.

Apart from these two present and past participle, there is also perfect participle. The perfect participle expresses an action completed in some past time.


  • Having rested, we continued our journey.

Some important facts about participle

A participle can function as a verbal adjective, so it is called a verbal adjective.

It can function as a verb and govern a noun or pronoun; like,

  • Hearing a noise, the boy woke up. (In this sentence, the noun 'noise' is governed by the participle hearing.)

A participle like a verb can be modified by an adverb; like,

  • Loudly knocking at the gate, he demanded admission. (In this sentence, the participle 'knocking' is modified by the adverb loudly.

A participle can qualify a noun or pronoun like an adjective; like,

  • Having rested, the men continued their journey.

When a past participle is used as an adjective, it is passive in meaning

A spent swimmer

A burnt child

A painted doll

When a present participle is used as an adjective, it is active in meaning

A child who is burnt

A swimmer who is tired out

A doll which is painted

Uses of the participle

If the present participle is with the 'be' form of the verb, it forms the continuous tenses (active voice)


  • I am playing
  • I was playing
  • I shall be playing

If the past participle is with the 'have' form of the verb, it forms the perfect tenses (active voice)


  • I have played
  • I had played
  • I shall have played

If the past participle is with the 'be' form of the verb, the passive voice is formed


  • I am loved
  • I was loved
  • I shall be loved

The participles that qualify nouns or pronouns can be used severely like;

As attributively

  • A lost opportunity never returns
  • His tattered coat needs mending

As predicatively

  • The man seems (Here modifying the subject)
  • He kept me laughing. (Here modifying the object)

With noun and pronoun going before; like

  • The weather being fine, we went out
  • Their master being absent, the work was neglected.
  • Gog willing, we will have a good day again.

Note: In the above sentences, the participle going before the noun and pronoun forms an independent phrase that is called an absolute phrase.

The absolute phrase can be changed into a subordinate clause


  • Spring advancing, the mustard flowers appear. (When spring advances - clause of time)
  • God willing, we shall meet again. (If God is willing - clause of condition)

There are also some errors in the use of participles like;

  • Standing at the gate, a scorpion stung Rohan. (Here, the meaning seems like scorpion was standing at the gate)
  • Going up the hill, the cloud was seen.

Note: The above sentences are incorrect because the participle is left without proper agreement. These sentences should be rewritten as given below;

  • Standing at the gate, Rohan was stung by a scorpion.
  • When we went up the hill, we saw the cloud.

In some sentences, the participle is understood.

  • Sword (being) in hand, he rushed towards the jailor.
  • Breakfast (having been) over, we went out for a walk.

Next TopicPreposition

Youtube For Videos Join Our Youtube Channel: Join Now


Help Others, Please Share

facebook twitter pinterest

Learn Latest Tutorials


Trending Technologies

B.Tech / MCA