Finite

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Verb forms can be divided in many ways. One of great use to students of grammar, but not necessarily to those who only want to use English better, is the division between finite and non-finite.

  • Finite verb forms are those whose meanings have certain boundaries. In English, the boundary that matters most is tense. A finite verb is one whose tense can be known. The other boundaries are those of number and person.

It follows that

  • non-finite verbs are forms, and uses, of verbs that are not distinguishable by tense, person or number. Non-finite forms include infinitives, participles and verbal nouns.

(Beware: non-finite is not the same as infinitive. The infinitive is one non-finite form of the verb.)

For the term applying to numbers, see infinite.