There are two kinds of verbs: finite verbs and nonfinite verbs.

Finite verb

The finite verb changes with the person and number of the subject. It has the present or past form. This means finite verb has tenses. Every sentence must have a finite verb. The following table shows an example of finite verbs:

Person Present Tense
  Singular Plural
First Person I eat We eat
Second Person You eat You eat
Third Person He eats They eat
  She eats They eat
  It eats They eat

The verb eat in the above table is a finite verb because it changes with the person and number of the subject. When it is used with the third and singular person, the verb changes to eats.


Nonfinite verb

The nonfinite verb does not change to reflect singular or plural or tenses. It comes in different form as the following table shows:

Finite verb  Nonfinite verb 
-s form eats, laughs, runs -ing form eating, running, using
Present tense eat, laugh, run Infinitive (to) eat, (to) run, (to) use
Past tense ate, laughed, ran Past participle eaten, run, used

As is seen from the table 2, the nonfinite verb does not have tenses. It has the ending in –ing form, infinitive form and past participle form.


Further examples:

  • Ending in –ing form: I saw her feeding rabbits.
  • Infinitive form: To talk with your mouth full is not a nice thing to do.
  • Past participle form: The prehistoric artifact stolen from the museum was never recovered.