Finite verbs are a crucial part of grammar that help convey the tense, mood, and aspect of a sentence. Identifying finite verbs is important for sentence analysis, understanding verb agreement, and constructing sentences that are grammatically correct.
Here are some ways to identify finite verbs:
Look for Tense
Finite verbs are always inflected to show the tense of the sentence. The most common tenses are present, past, and future.
For example, “I am running” is in the present tense, “I ran” is in the past tense, and “I will run” is in the future tense. In these examples, “am running,” “ran,” and “will run” are all finite verbs because they show the tense of the sentence.
Check for Subject-verb Agreement
Finite verbs must agree with the subject of the sentence in terms of number (singular or plural) and person (first, second, or third).
For example, “He walks to school” has a singular subject and a singular finite verb, while “They walk to school” has a plural subject and a plural finite verb.
Look for the Main Verb in a Sentence
A sentence can have one or more verbs, but only one of them will be the main verb that carries the tense of the sentence.
The main verb is always a finite verb. For example, in the sentence “He is eating a sandwich,” the main verb is “is eating,” which is a finite verb in the present continuous tense.
Check for the Absence of “to” Before the Verb
Finite verbs are not preceded by “to” in their base form. For example, “I want to eat” has a non-finite verb (“to eat”), while “I eat” has a finite verb (“eat”).
Additionally, in the sentence “She wants to dance,” “wants” is a finite verb while “to dance” is a non-finite verb.
Check for the Ability to Stand Alone as a Sentence
A finite verb can function as the main verb in a sentence and can stand alone to form a complete sentence. For example, “I danced” is a sentence that has a finite verb (“danced”) as its main verb and expresses a complete thought.
Look for Inflection for Person and Number
Finite verbs are inflected to indicate the person and number of the subject. For example, “I walk,” “you walk,” and “he/she/it walks” are all inflected differently based on the person and number of the subject, but they are all finite verbs.
Check for the Presence of Helping Verbs
A finite verb can be accompanied by one or more helping verbs to form a verb phrase. Helping verbs include “be,” “have,” “do,” and modal verbs like “can,” “may,” and “should.” For example, “She is walking,” “I have walked,” and “He can walk” are all sentences that have a finite verb as the main verb and one or more helping verbs.
In summary, finite verbs are essential in constructing grammatically correct sentences that express a complete thought.
They show the tense of a sentence and agree with the subject in number and person. By looking for tense, subject-verb agreement, main verbs, absence of “to,” ability to stand alone as a sentence, inflection for person and number, and the presence of helping verbs, you can easily identify finite verbs in a sentence.