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Finite verb: Wikis


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A finite verb is a verb that is inflected for person and for tense according to the rules and categories of the languages in which it occurs. Finite verbs can form independent clauses, which can stand by their own as complete sentences.

The finite forms of a verb are the forms where the verb shows tense, person or number. Non-finite verb forms have no person or number, but some types can show tense.

  • Finite verb forms include: I go, she goes, he went
  • Non-finite verb forms include: to go, going, gone

Indo-European languages

In the Indo-European languages (such as English), only verbs in certain moods are finite. These include:

  • the indicative mood (expressing a state of affairs); e. g., "The bulldozer demolished the restaurant," "The leaves were yellow and stiff."
  • the imperative mood (giving a command); e. g., "Come here!", "Be a good boy!"
  • the subjunctive mood (typically used in dependent clauses); e. g., "It was required that we go to the back of the line." (The indicative form would be "went".)
  • the optative mood (expressing a wish or hope)

Verb forms that are not finite include:

It might seem that every grammatically complete sentence or clause must contain a finite verb. However, sentences lacking a finite verb were quite common in the old Indo-European languages. The most important type of these are nominal sentences.[1]

Another type are sentence fragments described as phrases or minor sentences. In Latin and some Romance languages, there are a few words that can be used to form sentences without verbs, such as Latin ecce, Portuguese eis, French voici and voilà, and Italian ecco, all of these translatable as here ... is or here ... are. Some interjections can play the same role. Even in English, a sentence like Thanks for your help! has an interjection where it could have a subject and a finite verb form (compare I appreciate your help!).

See also


  1. ^ Fortson, Benjamin W. (2004), Indo-European Language and Culture, Blackwell Publishing, p. 143, ISBN 1-4051-0316-7  


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