To speak in classis difficult for some children but not for Charlie. He raises his hand constantly and lovesto participate in class discussions. In fact, speaking in classis what he does best. He does his homework and is very well prepared. Prepared studentsexcel in class. Also, students encouraged by their teachersdo well. Charlie is doing well in kindergarten.
Sometimes Charlie talks a little too much. He dislikessitting quietly. The teacher reminds him to share the discussion time. Other students are quiet and may think that they don't have anything important to say. However, the teacher values the opinions of all the students; she helps quiet students (to) speak out more confidently.
A finite clause includes a primary verb — a verb that can be inflected for tense, person and sometimes number — and includes a subject. A finite clause can stand alone as an independent clause (a sentence), or it can serve as a coordinate clause, a subordinate clause, or a supplementary clause. [Brackets enclose finite clauses below for demonstration purposes here.]
Charlie raises his hand constantly.
This finite clause is called the "main clause" or "matrix clause".
[He raises his hand constantly]and¹[he talks in class.]
"And" functions as a coordinator. The finite clauses are coordinates of "and".
We know that²[Charlie raises his hand constantly]].
Charlie raised his hand so that [he could ask a question].
Charlie's curiosity is due to the fact that [he asks so many questions].
"That" functions as the subordinator of the content in the finite clause; that + the finite clause complements (completes the meaning expressed by) the verb "know".
Other children are annoyed because³ [Charlie raises his hand constantly].
The teacher ignores Charlie if³ [he waves his hand wildly].
"Because" and "if" are connective prepositions; the finite clause complements (completes the meaning of) the preposition in the prepositional phrase.
A boy[who raises his hand constantly] wants to be the center of attention.
"Who" is a relative pronoun in the finite clause and refers to the noun before it. The finite clause modifies "boy".
COORDINATE CLAUSE / SUPPLEMENTAL CLAUSE
Charlie likes the teacher's attention, so [he raises his hand constantly.]
"So" functions as a coordinator and as a connective adverb (see Reversibility); the finite clause complements (completes the meaning of) "so", which expresses result.
A nonfinite clause includes a secondary verb — a verb not inflected for tense, person or number (e.g., infinitival, gerundial or past participial verb form) — and occasionally a subject (e.g., his, him for). A nonfinite clause is a dependent clause, which functions as part of a sentence such as a subject, a verbal complement ("object"), a prepositional complement ("object"), or a noun complement (modifier).
To [speak in class] is encouraged.
[Speaking in class] is encouraged.
For himto [speak in class] requires self-confidence. (w/subject)
He lovesto [participate].
He dislikes[sitting quietly].
The teacher encourageshis [participating in discussions].(w/subject)
Charlie smiled after [answering the question].
Charlie is used to [answering questions].
Charlie is interested in [hearing the answers].
[Prepared] students excel in class. (pre-position modifier)
Students [encouraged by their teachers] do well. (post-position modifier)
Charlie is prepared. (complement to "be" or a stative verb)
"The general term 'finite' is related to its everyday sense of 'limited', a finite verb is characteristically limited with respect to person and number [marked for person and tense]. (Huddleston and Pullum 88-89)
complement — a word, phrase or clause that is expected or required to complete the meaning of some other element in the clause. That is, the clause or phrase would not sound complete without the word, phrase or clause. See Subj–Pred–Comp or Function vs. Category.
tense(want-wanted, eat-ate),person (want-wants, eat-eats), number [be] (am-is-are/ was-were).
¹ a coordinator(e.g., and, but, or, nor) joins like elements. The two finite clauses are "coordinates" of and. And carries little meaning. It serves as a marker of coordination (addition). It is not part of either clause.
² the subordinatorthat marks content (the clause that follows) as placed within the main (matrix) clause. That has no meaning; it merely serves as a marker for the subordinate clause and it is not part of the clause.
³ a connective preposition (e.g., because, if, though) adds additional information to the main (matrix) clause. The connective preposition is the head of the prepositional phrase (because of its primary position in the phrase and the fact that it carries meaning). The connective preposition may accept a noun phrase, prepositional phrase, gerund or finite clause as its complement. That is to say, the prepositional phrase structure can include a finite clause within it. See How is a Preposition a Connective? | Phrase vs. Clause
a relative pronoun(e.g., that, which, who, why, when, where, how) adds modifying information to a noun.
A finite clause has a primary verb that can be marked for tense, person, and in some cases, number (raise, raises, raised; is, was, were).
Charlie raised his hand.
The teacher likesthat [he raises his hand].
(that subordinates the finite clause within the main clause)
INFINITIVAL NONFINITE CLAUSE
A nonfinite infinitival clause has a plain form (base) verb that usually occurs with to, which is analyzed as a subordinator, not part of the nonfinite clause. Similarly, for is analyzed as a subordinator of the subject of the infinitive clause.
Charlie wantsto[raise his hand].Verb + Infinitive "to" is the subordinator of the infinitival clause
"for" is the subordinator of the subject of the infinitival clause
Huddleston "catenative auxiliaries" 14 §4.2.2; The auxiliary takes a nonfinite complement. He is [main verb] working [nonfinite complement].
subordinator — subordinators in English grammar include that, to, and for. A subordinator allows us to package content (a noun phrase or a clause) as the subject, the object, or a prepositional complement in the main clause. The subordinator does not carry meaning as part of the clause, rather it serves as the marker of the subordinated content.
Gerund-Participle—is a merged term for the -ing form that has multiple functions (uses). Current analysis does not support the traditional gerund vs. participle distinction. Instead, it is analyzed as one form, -ing, that functions in multiple ways. The train is approaching the platform. [with progressive auxiliary]; The train approaching the platform is on time. [post-position subject-noun modifier]; The approaching train was on time. [pre-position subject-noun modifier] (Huddleston 3 §1.5)
The boy is [waving his hand]. [with progressive auxiliary];
The boy [waving his hand] is annoying. [subject-noun modifier, post-position];
The [waving] boy is annoying. [subject-noun modifier, pre-position]
A finite clause includes a primary verb as the main verb. A primary verb can be inflected for tense (usually -ed in past), person (usually -s for 3rd person) and occasionally number (is/are and was/were).
ARE MARKED FOR TENSE
Charlie raises / raised his hand. (regular tensed verb)
Charlie is silly . Charlie and Jill were silly. (irregular)
Charlie does his math. Jill did her math. (irregular)
HAVE A SUBJECT
Charliehopesthatheknows the answer.
The verb hopes has the subject Charlie, and knows has the subject he.
It is annoying thathe answers all the questions.
ARE MARKED FOR PERSON
Charlie raises his hand. 3rd person
FORM NEGATIVES WITH DO + NOT
Charlie does notwant to sit in class all day.
(Uses "do" support with the negative.)
Charlie is not here today. ("be" is an exception)
A nonfinite clause includes a secondary verb as the "head" of the clause. A secondary (nonfinite) verb is not marked for tense, aspect, mood, number and person, and it cannot serve as the predicate in an independent clause.
ARE NOT MARKED FOR TENSE
[Tospeak in class] is difficult. (infinitival)
[Speaking in class] is encouraged. (gerundial)
[Prepared students] are more likely to succeed. (p.participial)
RARELY HAVE A SUBJECT
Charlie hopes to [ __ know the answer]. The verb hopes has the subject Charlie, but knows has no subject.
It is unusual for [him to [keep quiet]. The exception is the "It…for" structure in which the subject is subordinated with for (him, her, them, etc.)
ARE NOT MARKED FOR PERSON
Charlie wantsto [raise his hand].
Charlie stands up to [speak in class]. (purpose)
Charlie helps us [answer questions]. (without to)
It is hard for Charlie to [sit quietly.]
FORM NEGATIVES WITH NOT
Charlie wants notto [sit in class all day].
(Does not use "do" support with the negative.)
Charlie prefers not [sitting in class all day]
Charlie seemsnotto [be here today].
[Notwanting tosit all day] is understandable.
Note that in the 2002 revision of the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, finite and nonfinite verbs were renamed primary and secondary verbs. The words finite and nonfinite were reinterpreted as a syntactic category of the clause not the verb. However, some people continue to use the term "finite verb".
A secondary verb cannot serve as a predicate, nor can it be used in an independent clause unless combined with an auxiliary verb (e.g., can, may, will). A clause whose verb is secondary is called a nonfinite clause. This kind of clause is almost always subordinate. (Brackets enclose the nonfinite clause in each example below for the purpose of illustration.)
See Huddleston finite-nonfinite 1173; to and for as subordinators 1181; gerund-participle distinction 80, 1120; be 113.
Finite clauses are those whose verbs are primary (can be inflected for tense (usually -ed in past) and person).
PRIMARY VERB FORMS
Charlie raised his hand. (has inflectional forms for tense and person)
Charlie believes that he knows the answer.
IMPERATIVE¹ PLAIN FORM
Raise your hand. imperative (You) raise your hand.
Don't raise your hand. ("do" support)
SUBJUNCTIVE² PLAIN FORM
I suggest that you raise your hand.
Charlie, who sits in class, finds it difficult.
Charlie dislikes when he sits in class.
Charlie, [who is admired by his classmates], raised his hand.
Nonfinite clauses are those whose verbs are secondary: infinitival, gerundial (-ing) or participial (-ed).
SECONDARY VERB FORMS
Secondary verbs cannot be the main verb of a clause.
Brackets [ ] mark nonfinite clauses, below. Note that "to" is not included; instead, it is analyzed as a subordinator.
INFINITIVAL "TO" + PLAIN FORM
Charlie wantsto [answer the question].
The marker to subordinates the infinitival clause.
Charlie wants me to [call on him].
Charlie would love for [me to [call on him]].
The marker for subordinates the subject ("agent") into the infinitival clause.
INFINITIVAL PLAIN FORM
Charlie helped us [answer the question]. after dare, need, help, etc.
Charlie should[sit quietly]. after modals
All he did was[talk out loud]. after do
[Sitting in class] is hard. (a.k.a. "a gerund subject")
Charlie dislikessitting in class. ("a gerund object")
Charlie, [knowing the answer], annoyed the other students.
("a reduced adjective clause" or "participial adjective")
Charlie, [admired by his classmates], raised his hand. (relative clause)
¹Imperatives were added to the primary verb category despite the fact that they are always inflected with the same person (you) and tense (plain form). The reason is that they use "do" support and they are always found in a main clause, a characteristic of other finite verbs.
²Subjunctives were added to the primary verb category despite the fact that they do not use "do" support and are usually subordinate (except: So be it?, Be that as it may, Long live __!, Far be it for me to…) The reason they are included as primary verbs is that they are more like tensed verbs in that they always have a subject, they use that as their subordinator, and in most cases they can be restated as a tensed verb: It is important that he raise his hand before speaking. (suggestion, imposition of will) / It is important that he raises his hand before speaking. (statement of observation)
Gerund-participle— Historically, the gerund and present participle of traditional grammar have different sources (gerunds were mostly nouns while participles were adjectives). However, in linguistic description the forms are identical. (Huddleston 82, 1220)
"Non-finite clauses are regularly dependent. They are more compact and less explicit than finite clauses: they are not marked for tense and modality, and they frequently lack an explicit subject and subordinator." (Biber 198)
Roles of finite clauses:
infinitive clause — subject, extraposed subject, subject predicative, direct object, object predicative, adverbial, part of noun phrase, part of adjective phrase
-ing clause — subject, extraposed subject, subject predicative, direct object, prepositional object, adverbial, part of noun phrase, part of adjective phrase, complement of preposition
-ed clause— direct object, adverbial, part of noun phrase
INFINITIVAL CLAUSE — OBJECT (VERB COMPLEMENT)
INFINITIVAL CLAUSE—WITH A SUBJECT (HIM)
HUDDLESTON, PULLUM, ET AL.
"The general term 'finite' is related to its everyday sense of 'limited', a finite verb is characteristically limited with respect to person and number [marked for person and tense].…Non-finite clauses are characteristically subordinate and non-finiteness can be seen as an instance of the phenomenon known as 'desententialisation', the loss of properties that are associated with a clause standing alone as a full sentence." [not marked for person and tense, dependent] ( 88-9)
Finiteness is a syntactical rather than an inflectional category in English:
"In the past linguistic analysis of English verb inflection, the first division is between the finite and non-finite forms, but the revision we have made means that the finite/non-finite distinction is no longer definable simply in terms of inflection. We will see that there are grounds for not discarding it altogether, however, and we therefore reinterpret it as a syntactic category of the clause, rather than as an inflectional category of the verb. Clauses whose verb is primary form are finite, those whose verb is a past participle or gerund-participle are non-finite, but those with a plain form verb can be either depending on the construction. … In the revision, imperative and subjunctive, which use plain form are included in the category of primary verbs." (88-9)
Form Types: infinitival (to-infinitival, bare-infinitival) — subject (NP), verb complement (VP), subordinate (adjunct or supplement) gerund-participle (ing) — subject (NP), verb complement (VP), subordinate (adjunct or supplement) past participle (ed) — verb complement (VP), subordinate (adjunct or supplement) (1173)
The weather is strange this year. In the South, weather marked by exceptionally high temperatures and exceptionally little precipitation has destroyed crops. In the East, rain falling endlessly has flooded city streets.
It is unusual for us to have so much rain in the East and none in the South. In the West, temperatures remain about the same. However, precipitation has diminished.
crops (N) — produce that farmers grow such as corn, wheat, cotton, and hay
diminish (V) — become less
exceptionally (Adv) — unusually; unexpectedly
flood (V) — fill with too much water
mark (V) — have the attribute or characteristic
precipitation (N) — rainfall
Identify the verb category in each sentence.
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