Nonfinite Verbs – Infinitives, Participles & Gerunds Rules & Examples

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Nonfinite Verbs – Infinitives, Participles & Gerunds Rules & Examples

Nonfinite verbs along with infinitives, gerunds, participles, it’s definition, and examples are explained to clear all the basic concepts.

Nonfinite Verbs – Infinitives, Participles & Gerunds

Let’s try to understand the basics of infinitives, participles & gerunds.

Infinitives, Participles & Gerunds Basics

Nonfinite verbs as well as infinitives, gerunds, participles, are some of the most important aspects of English grammar. Unlike finite verbs, they allow you to express a bit more complex ideas with their usage.

  • One of the fundamental things to know about Nonfinite verbs is that they never qualify the tense.
  • Rather, in the sentence, they can cater to multiple functions.
  • Like, sometimes they can work as nouns, adjectives, verbs, or even adverbs.

That’s exactly why they are considered much more versatile than all the other Nonfinite verbs. Much like all the other grammatical phenomena, Nonfinite verbs are also classified into several groups, and each of the groups uses certain rules.

In this post, we are going to look at these groups, their respective rules, along with a few examples that will help us understand their nature and usage better.

So let’s get started.

Different Forms of Nonfinite verbs

The Nonfinite verbs are mainly classified into three forms such as:

  • Infinitives
  • Gerunds
  • Participle

We will start the post by looking at the rules and examples of the infinitive:

What are Infinitives Verbs, Definitions & Examples?

Let’s try to understand the basics of infinitives, participles & gerunds.

Infinitives Verbs Definition

Among all the Nonfinite verbs, infinitives can function as a verb in the sentence despite the presence of a finite verb.

Much like all the Nonfinite verbs, they will remain unchanged with the tense of the sentence. They often come in the form of ‘to’, but in certain cases, they are omitted as well.

Different Forms of Infinitives Verbs

  • He often visits the church to pray.
  • They have the desire to eat.
  • He wanted him to accompany him to work.
  • To forgive is a noble act.
  • What he had to do in that situation was brave.

Infinitive Verbs Examples & Rules

(Verb/Adjective/Noun/) + Infinitives

By the syntax itself, I guess you can understand what’s going on here in this variety.

Let’s look at a few examples to have a clearer idea.

  • They come here to pray.
  • Nobody likes to be blamed without reason.
  • We all have the desire to be happy.
  • To forgive is a noble act.

You need to keep in mind that a few verbs and adjectives are often followed by infinitives.

Some of them are:

  • Agree
  • Happy
  • Desires
  • Need
  • Dare
  • Hope
  • Expect
  • Decide
  • Want
  • Wish
  • Refuse
  • Eager
  • Fail
  • Glad
  • Happy
  • Easy

How + Infinitives

To put it simply, the moment you use the infinitives to express the manner of something or some activity, the complete form becomes ‘how to’.

Keep in mind that there are a few verbs that indicate this form. They are:

  • Know
  • Learn
  • Explain
  • Teach
  • Discover
  • Wonder
  • Show
  • Ask
  • Remember
  • Forget

Let’s look at a few examples:

  • He knows how to repair an air-conditioner.
  • We taught him how to respect his elders.

Direct Infinitives

As I have mentioned earlier, sometimes the infinitives can be used without the use of ‘to’. This particular form is known as Direct Infinitives.

Now, there a few rules about using direct infinitives.

Let’s look at them:

  • When we are using ‘Need’ and ‘Dare’ in negative or interrogative sentences as auxiliary verbs, they don’t use ‘to’.
  • You need to study hard to pass the exam.
  • You don’t need to study hard to pass the exam.
  • Does he need to complete all the chores?

Please note that the ‘s’ is not used with dare/need when used as auxiliary verbs.

  • Some of the direct infinitives can be used after the verbs like let, bid, make, know, help, feel, hear, watch, see, etc.
  • Keep in mind that the direct infinitive feature can only be used in the active voice, except for the verb ‘let’. Only with this verb, the direct infinitive can be used in both passive and active voice.

Like for example:

  • I made him do all the chores today.
  • The workers were made to do a double-shift yesterday.
  • The warden let the dog free.
  • The birds were let go by the prince.

Perfective Infinitive

Now, this may sound a bit complicated, but the perfect infinitives can be used when the action they denote is preceded by the action denoted by the finite verb.

A bit too complex?

Let’s look at the examples:

  • Yesterday, I wanted to have that done.
  • He finally confessed to having committed this heinous crime.
  • Much like the other rules, we have a few verbs with which perfect infinitives can be used. These verbs are: deny, confess, admit, recollect, remember, recall, claim, regret, seem, appear, report, believe, understand, say, allege, suspect, learn, requires, suppose, etc.

Let’s look at a few examples:

  • She denied to have met him in the first place.
  • He really appears to have what it takes to do the job.
  • I still remember to have seen him at the restaurant last Friday.

Check worksheets for nonfinite verbs for practice.

What are Gerunds, Definition & Examples

Let’s try to understand the basics of gerunds, along with the definition & examples!

Gerunds Definition

A gerund is a Nonfinite that often functions as the noun in a sentence. One of the most common examples of gerunds can be: “Swimming is a good exercise.”

Here, swimming is the verb that works as the noun.

Gerunds Examples & Rules

Let’s look at the rules of Gerund:

Preposition + Gerund

Much like the syntax, you can understand that there are a few prepositions before which we can use gerunds.

Let us look at a few of them:

  • Desirous Of
  • Intent On
  • Justified In
  • Disqualify From
  • Bent On
  • Hesitate In
  • Refrain From
  • Keen On
  • A Hope Of
  • Prevent From
  • Aim At
  • Hope To (Infinitive)
  • Debar From
  • Confident Of
  • Fortunate In
  • Desist From
  • Confidence In
  • Harm In
  • Restrain From
  • Insist On
  • Assist In
  • Prohibit From
  • Persist In
  • A Chance Of
  • Dissuade From
  • Succeed In
  • Fond Of
  • Abstain From
  • Successful In
  • Take / Feel Pleasure In
  • Point In
  • Sense In
  • Give Pleasure To (Infinitive)
  • Deter From
  • Interested In

Let’s look at a few examples to understand them better:

  • I prohibited him to smoke.
  • She is hell-bent on making his life miserable.
  • She is confident to win the race.

Direct Gerund

Much like infinitives, in the case of the direct gerund, we have a few staple verbs and phrases with which it is used. They are:

  • Avoid,
  • mind,
  • detest,
  • can’t help,
  • can’t bear,
  • resist,
  • enjoy,
  • resent,
  • stop,
  • start,
  • postpone,
  • defer,
  • worth,
  • prefer,
  • consider,
  • practice,
  • finish,
  • risk,
  • pardon,
  • excuse,
  • forgive,
  • it is no use/good,
  • propose,
  • miss,
  • imagine,
  • regret,
  • means,
  • anticipate,
  • love,
  • like hate,
  • dislike.

Some of the phrasal verbs are also often followed by direct gerunds such as ‘give up, put off, and set about. Let’s look at a few examples:

  • We stopped to watch the rain.
  • He has given up on his dream to become an actor.
  • You should avoid drinking alcohol every weekend.

To + Gerund

Here we will be looking at the verbs with which you get the following syntax ‘to + gerund’.

They are;

  • ‘be used to,
  • accustomed to,
  • adverse to,
  • with a view to,
  • addicted to,
  • devoted to,
  • in addition to,
  • look forward to,
  • owing to,
  • given to,
  • taken to,
  • disposed to,
  • prone to.’
  • He is addicted to drinking heavily every day.
  • She is used to getting ready all on her own.
  • They used to do camp-fire on every vacation.

What are Participles, Definition & Examples

Participles are the Nonfinite verbs that can work as adjectives or adverbs in a sentence.

  • A participle can be used as a participle clause/absolute phrase (Nominative Absolute).
  • The main feature of the participle clause is, here, the participle is used in the place of a finite verb.
  • On the other hand, with the nominative absolute, you have a participle that has a noun/pronoun going before it.
  • Walking in the garden, I found an old pencil-box. (the present participle)
  • Surprised to hear the news, I immediately rushed to his place. (past participle)
  • Having taken food, I left for work.

We can change the participles into the following clauses

  • Adverb Clause Of Time
  • Adverb Clause Of Condition
  • Adverb Clause Of Reason
  • Adverb Clause Of Contrast
  • Adjective Clause
  • Co-Ordinate Clause


So, here you go, the different forms of Nonfinite verbs, their type, along with the suitable examples. I believe, after reading this post, you will be much confident about using them.

As we all know, practice always makes things perfect, so make sure you read a lot, anything that is written in the English language. This will help you understand the use of Nonfinite verbs better and make your overall grasp of the language much stronger.

Should you have any other questions regarding nonfinite verbs and their uses, please feel free to write to us, and we will surely reach out to you.

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