Table of Contents
- The fishermen are mending their nets.
(Present tense is used in the finite/main clause.)
- We dined at a cheap restaurant last night.
(Past tense used in the finite/main clause.)
- We were not allowed in because we arrived late.
(Past tense is used in the main clause [finite clause] we were not allowed in and in the subordinate clause [finite clause] because we arrived late.)
- He gave up his job to travel the world.
- We wanted to ask her to come along.
- The person to make the report to at the police station was the Sergeant.
- He is a thoroughly spoilt child being the only one in the family.
- You are the only one capable of solving the problem.
- Before becoming a bank robber, he was a police officer.
- Seeing no employment prospect, he became self-employed.
- Trained as an acrobat since young, she has amazed audiences with her superb skills.
- All the children, gathered in that group, were ready to perform a traditional dance.
- A woman recognized as one of the hostages was found unharmed in the building.
- The child intends to be a bank robber when asked what he would like to be.
Subordinate conjunction is often used to begin a non-finite clause. The subordinate conjunctions used here are if, unless, though.
- Her appointment, if approved, will make her the company’s first female General Manager.
- The police, unless notified, will not carry out an investigation.
- The rescuers found the boy, though injured, fully conscious.
Finite vs. Non-finite clause
A finite clause is a grammatical unit containing subject and finite verb. It can be an independent clause, which can stand on its own as a sentence, or a dependent clause, which can’t be a sentence. Examples of finite clause (each sentence contains two finite clauses, one dependent and one independent.
A non-finite clause is a grammatical unit that contains a non-finite verb. Since non-finite verb is participle and infinitive form of verb, in other words, a non-finite clause contains a participle or an infinitive as its verb. It usually doesn’t contain a subject, but may sometimes. Non-finite clauses, like dependent clauses, can’t exist on their own and hence are embedded into independent clauses. Examples of non-finite clause:
I’ve plenty of work requiring urgent attention. [Non-finite clause with participle requiring as verb]
I’ve plenty of work to finish. [Non-finite clause with infinitive to finish as verb]
Finishing the work isn’t a priority at the moment. [Non-finite clause with participle finishing as verb]
Many grammar books call non-finite clauses as phrases. The above three non-finite clauses, for example, can also be called participial phrase, infinitive phrase, and gerund phrase, respectively. If definition of non-finite clause confuses you, just remember that the above three types of phrases constitute non-finite clause.
How does traditional definition of clause fit in with finite and non-finite clause?
How does the traditional definition of clause reconcile with finite and non-finite clause? Are finite and non-finite clause some new type of clauses? How are they different from dependent and independent clause?
Here is how we’ve known clause traditionally:
A clause is a grammatical group of words that contains both subject and finite verb. A clause can be dependent or independent, depending on whether they convey incomplete or complete meaning, respectively.
When we classify clause as finite and non-finite, we broaden the traditional definition. Finite clause represents our traditional clause – dependent and independent clause. (We saw this in the definition of finite clause in the previous section as well.) And non-finite clause is a subset of our traditional phrase. (We saw that non-finite clauses are essentially gerund phrases, participial phrases, and infinitive phrases from the traditional setup.)
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Types of non-finite clause
As we saw earlier, there are two types of non-finite verbs: participle and infinitive. The two non-finite verbs form three types of non-finite clauses: gerund clause, participial clause, and infinitive clause.
Note that non-finite clauses may also be classified as -ing clause (present participial + gerund), -ed clause (past participial), and infinitive clause. The two classifications are one and the same.
1. Gerund clause
A gerund clause functions as noun in a sentence. (They’re better known as gerund phrase.) Examples:
Waking at 6 AM in the morning, is the most unwanted thing I have ever done. [Noun]
Weighing a pig won’t fatten it. Altering its diet would. [Noun]
2. Participial clause
A participial clause can be present participial or past participial clause. (They’re better known as participial phrase.) In a sentence, it functions as an adjective or adverb. Examples:
Josh had palpitations while addressing the meeting. [Present Participial clause functioning as adverb]
Although groomed in the best possible way, the tycoon’s son struggled to take the business any further. [Past Participial clause functioning as adverb]
Look around and you’ll find many flatterers indulging in insincere praise for selfish motives. [Present Participial clause functioning as adjective]
Steve Jobs, credited with changing the fortune of Apple, made quite a few comebacks in his life. [Past Participial clause functioning as adjective]
3. Infinitive clause
An infinitive clause, which starts with to, can function as noun, adjective, or adverb. (They’re better known as infinitive phrase.) Examples:
To lose weight has been a long-standing goal for me. [Noun]
He, in fact, ordered the wrong product because of his failure to read the product description carefully. [Adjective]