Use and kinds of Non-Finites

Verbs can be divided into two types:

   A verb that changes its form according to person, tense, mood, etc, is called a ‘Finite Verb’.

Examples :
                       1.Mohan works hard.
                       2.They worked hard.
                       3.She is working hard.
                       4.We have worked hard.
                       5.How I wish we worked hard!

The underlined words in these examples are Finite Verbs because they change according to person, number and tense.

Now look at the sentences given below :

                              1.He wants to be rich.
                       2.She wanted to be rich.
                       3.They want to be rich.
                       4.She makes me understand everything.
                       5.She made me understand everything.
                       6.We will make you understand science.

The verbs be and understand here do not change according to tense, number and person. Such verbs are called Non-Finite Verbs.

Kinds of Non-Finites

The Infinitive

Let us study the infinitive first, The infinitive has two forms :


Use of to+infinitive

The to+infinitive is used in the following ways :
As a noun :

(a)To err is human. ( Subject )
    To criticize others is very easy. ( subject )

(b)We want to learn French. ( object of the transitive verb want )
     I know how to cook rice. ( Object )

(c)The best thing is to do the work yourself. ( Complement to the linking      verb is )
     Her aim was to become a doctor. ( Complement to the linking verb           was )
(d) It is easier to preach than to practise. ( After the Dummy Subject 'It' )

 As an adverb to modify a verb or an adjective :

     (a) He went to meet the President. ( modifies the verb went )
          I stood up to speak. ( modifies the verb stood )

     (b) She is anxious to leave. ( modifies the adjective anxious )
           You are difficult to please. ( modifies the adjective difficult )

As an adjective to qualify a noun :

          It is time to leave.     ( qualifies the noun time )
          We have nothing to offer.    ( qualifies nothing )

As an object complement or an object to preposition.

          He is about to resign.
          We saw him go.
          I felt something fall on my foot.

As an adjunct :

          He was the first to arrive.
          Please give me something to eat.

As part of 'too + adjective / adverb + infinitive'
( enough + infinitive )

          The patient is too weak to walk.
          I don't have money enough to buy a car.

As an absolute to modify the whole sentence :

          To be honest with you, I hate you.
          To cut the long story short, he cheated everybody.

Use of the bare infinitive 

After some verbs like watch, bid, see, let, make, help, hear, feel, etc. 

          She bade me come.
          She helped me do my homework.
          The Director made me wait.
          Let me ask a question.

With had better, had rather :

          I'd better stay where I am.
          You had rather speak to her.

With some prepositions like except, but, than, etc.:

          He does nothing except complain.
          I would rather die than beg. 

Passive form of the Infinitive ( to + be + past Participle )

          It is an insult to be treated like that.
          She likes to be flattered.


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