# Finite And Non-Finite Clauses?

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Good morning, evening or night to everyone.

I have a question regarding finite and non-finite clauses:

In this sentence:

I want to find dead animals

Is it a finite or non-finite clause? There are finite and non-finite verbs, so, what is it?

In this simple sentence: I want you

It's easy to recognize it as a finite clause since there are one subject and a finite verb. However, in sentences such as: I might have been able to do it

Is it a finite or non-finite clause?

Main (independent) clause: I want

Non-finite (infinitive) clause: to find dead animals

Main (independent) clause: I might have been able

Non-finite (infinitive) clause: to do it

ProdigyIn this sentence:I want to find dead animals
Is it a finite or non-finite clause?

It's two clauses.

I want | to find dead animals.

The non-finite clause is a complement of the finite verb 'want'.

ProdigyI might have been able to do it.
Is it a finite or non-finite clause?

I might have been able | to do it.

The analysis is the same as for the previous sentence. 'to do it' is a complement of the adjective 'able'.

CJ

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Thank you.

So you are the kind of person who agrees on: I would like to do it (would like: finite verbs) as opposed to: I would like to do it: (Would: finite verb and Like: non-finite verb). However, in this sentence: I was sent to kill the humanity

How would you describe it? I was sent = finite clause, to kill the humanity = non-finite clause?

I'm being send to kill you

I'm being sent = finite clause?

to kill = non-finite clause

They are sending me to kill you

They are sending = finite clause?

to kill you = non-finite clause?

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Thank you, CJ.

However, I'm very much confused for people seem to use different definitions for finite and non-finite clauses; There are currently two sides:

People who think that: I would like to do it - "would" - finite verb "like to do it" - non-finite verbs.

And people who think that: I would like to do it - "would like" - finite verbs "to do it" - non-finite verbs.

I agree with the second opinion, for modal and auxiliaries do show tense; however, they can't stand alone, so if we follow that terminology, how would we describe a finite and non-finite clause?: I would like to do it - "I would" finite clause, "like to do it" - non-finite clause? It kinda makes no sense

Nevertheless, if we follow the first opinion, it makes more sense: I would like to do it - "I would like" finite clause, "to do it" - non-finite clause, it makes much more sense.

And also, I find the Cambridge's article very contradictory:

Finite clauses must contain a verb which shows tense. They can be main clauses or subordinate clauses:

Is it raining? (main: present)

I spoke to Joanne last night. (main: past)

We didn’t get any food because we didn’t have enough time. (main: past; subordinate: past)

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We use non-finite clauses as the complements to verbs which take -ing or to-infinitive after them:

I don’t enjoy playing tennis in the rain.

I’d hate to travel to London every day.

If it says that finite clauses must contain a verb which shows tense, why then are the auxiliaries (Is and didn't) and the main verbs marked as finite verbs whereas the non-finite clauses' examples only mark the auxiliaries as finite verbs?

Here's a good way to look at it.

Every finite clause contains one or more verbs in a sequence (knows, thought, was burning, would see, might have been taken), possibly with an intervening adverb or two, but we ignore those. This sequence is called a verb phrase.

And we don't include any full infinitives (to + verb) in the sequence or -ing words that are not preceded by the auxiliary be (is, was, etc.). Thus, has wanted | to go has has wanted as its finite clause, and would enjoy | skating has would enjoy as its finite clause.

Only the first verb in a verb phrase is a finite verb form. If there are more verbs in the phrase, they are all non-finite verb forms. It is the fact that the first verb form in the phrase is finite that makes us say that the whole phrase is "a finite verb" in "a finite clause". If there is more than one verb form in the phrase, all but the last is an auxiliary verb, so of course the first verb form in such a phrase will be an auxiliary verb and finite.

`In summary, in finite "verbs" (actually, verb phrases):... The first verb form is finite; the rest are non-finite.... The last verb form is not an auxiliary verb form; the rest are auxiliaries.`

(In consequence of these facts, a verb phrase with only one verb form has a verb form that is finite and is not an auxiliary, because that one verb form is both the first and the last verb form in the sequence.)

Every verb sequence that does not start with a finite form is "a non-finite verb" in "a non-finite clause" (to get there the fastest way, having seen her only twice, having been lost in the forest for a week, to be taken away, buried in work).

ProdigyI agree with the second opinion, for modal and auxiliaries do show tense

I do too. Modal verbs are considered finite verbs and auxiliary verbs.

ProdigyNevertheless, if we follow the first opinion, it makes more sense: I would like to do it - "I would like" finite clause, "to do it" - non-finite clause

You appear to be contradicting yourself. Earlier you said 'the first opinion' would analyze this differently, i.e., as "I would" and then "like to do it".

ProdigyIf it says that finite clauses must contain a verb which shows tense, why then are the auxiliaries (Is and didn't) and the main verbs marked as finite verbs whereas the non-finite clauses' examples only mark the auxiliaries as finite verbs?

I'm sorry to say that I have no idea what you're talking about.

ProdigyWe use non-finite clauses as the complements to verbs which take -ing or to-infinitive after them

I [don’t enjoy] [playing tennis in the rain].

don't enjoy is a finite verb phrase. The verb 'enjoy' takes an -ing non-finite clause as its complement. That's just a characteristic of 'enjoy'.

I[’d hate] [to travel to London every day].

'd hate (would hate) is a finite verb phrase. The verb 'hate' takes a to non-finite clause as its complement. That's a characteristic of 'hate'.
______________

The bold-face type is there to show the dividing line between the end of the finite clause and the beginning of the non-finite clause complement.

CJ

Hello Everyone

So what can we say is a simple sentence or a complex sentence since (to find dead animals) is a non finite clause which I believe is a subordinate clause (dependent clause)???

Thanks

Shalvin

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anonymousa simple sentence or a complex sentence

Categorizing sentences as 'simple' or 'compound' or 'complex' is an exercise for beginners, just to get them familiar with the basics of clauses. At this level there is no attempt to discuss finite and non-finite clauses. It's too advanced for beginners. That's why most problems set before students at this level do not even contain non-finite clauses. Only the simplest structures are used.

In more advanced studies of English grammar the talk of 'simple', 'compound', and 'complex' sentences virtually never comes up. The concept of clauses is expanded to include finite and non-finite clauses.

There is no analytical method that I know of where a consideration of non-finite clauses comes into the categorization of sentences as presented to beginners. However, if you want to include non-finite clauses in this methodology, you have basically two choices. You can ignore the non-finite clauses and treat them as continuations of the finite clauses. I want to win the prize is then a simple sentence. Or you can treat them as separate subordinate clauses. I want | to win the prize is then a complex sentence.

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Others may have different opinions on this.

CJ