A finite verb is a form of a verb that has a subject (expressed or implied) and can function as the root of an independent clause; an independent clause can, in turn, stand alone as a complete sentence. Read more about common clauses and how to use them.
Finite Verbs - Main action in a sentence
A finite verb is simply the verb in a sentence that is most closely associated with the subject of that sentence. In the preceding example, "can" is associated with the noun "entry." Verbs that are not associated with subjects in this way are called non-finite verbs. Most English verbs can be both finite and non-finite, depending on the context.
Using finite verbs in a sentence
Here is an example for you of the finite verb being used correctly within a sentence.
"The man promised the woman that he meet her for dinner, and she was thus becoming angry as a result of the fact that he hadn't called her yet."
In this sentence, "promised" is a finite verb associated with "man", "was" is a finite verb associated with "she", and "had" is a finite verb associated with "he".
Now, here is an example of the finite verb being used in an incorrect way.
"He gone to the other side of the planet, and he isn't coming back until the social drama of his peer group has blown over."
In this sentence, "gone" is used incorrectly, because the finite verb form of "go" in this context is "went".
For the purposes of clarification, here are a couple basic rules you can follow in order to make sure that you are using the finite verb form in a proper fashion.
- The finite verb can usually be found immediately after its subject. For example, in the sentence, "The dog ran," the finite verb ran is positioned immediately after its subject dog. So, in order to find the finite verb in a sentence, think about the relationship between the words in this way, and you should be just fine.
- Sometimes, the subject of the finite verb is implied rather than stated clearly. This is often the case, for example, in English commands (where the subject "you" is often just implied.) This is also the case for some kinds of shorthand: for example, you may tell your friend, "Will meet you for lunch," leaving the subject "I" implied.
Represents the simplest verb form
The finite verb is really one of the simplest constructions of grammar there is, making it ideal for most academic papers. In order to use it, you just have to take a subject, and then conjugate a verb to match that subject, in order to provide a description of what that subject has done. This is the general grammatical purpose served by the verb in general, and the finite verb form exemplifies that purpose. The only thing to be mindful of is that you conjugate the finite verb correctly on the basis of the tense of the sentence and the nature of the subject.
The finite verb form can be meaningfully contrasted against the infinitive form and the non-finite form. The infinitive would consist (for example) of just the phrase "to go", as opposed to the conjugated finite verb form "he went". Likewise, the non-finite form may have more of a relationship with finite verb than with the subject of the sentence (as the word "running" in the sentence, "He went running"). The defining feature of the finite verb form is that it is directly associated with a subject; and as such, it fulfills a very basic grammatical function.