• Required Reading
• Introduction: Structural characteristics of a clause
• Finite and non-finite clauses
• The finite clause
• The non-finite Clause
• Forms of the non-finite Claus
• Structural properties of the non-finite Clauses
• Self-Study Questions
At the end of the lesson, the student will be able to:
videntify the structural characteristics of a clause
vdifferentiate between finite and non finite clauses
vdiscuss the forms of the non-finite clauses
videntify finite and non finite clauses in sentences
vConstruct at least four (4) sentences using finite and non-finite clauses
Downing, A. (2015). English Grammar : A University Course (3rd edn.). London & New York, NY: Routledge.
(2.4.1 Classes of clauses,Finite and non-finite clauses)
Find the meaning of the following key words in the internet and write them down in your notebook:
6.modal verb / modality
structural characteristics of a clause
In the previous weeks,we have defined the clause according to the scale,characterizing it as the highest grammatical rank and analyzableinto lower ranks.
In terms of structure, we can define the clause as any construction which is analyzable into one or more clausal elements (e.g. Subject, Predicator, Object, etc.) and normally has a verbal group in its structure.
The following constructions are all clauses:
1.I am coming home.
2.To be a man
We can analyze them as follows:
1.I / am / coming / home. (Subj. + Finite + Pred. + Adjunct)
2.To be / a man (Predicator + Complement)
3.Flying / aeroplanes (Predicator + Object)
How many clauses are in the following text? Identify each clause and write down your answers for discussion with your tutor:
After finishing a raft of exercise focusing on clause-chunking, I realized that there isn’t a definite right or wrong analysis of English grammar. Different grammar can be used on different occasions. However, I did find out several principles that are commonly applied in clause-chunking.” (from a Learning Journal by Ruby)
By analyzing structural characteristics of a clause (i.e. according to the form of the verb), we arrive at three main classes, namely:
(2)non-finite clause, and
This week’s lesson focuses on finite and non-finite clauses.
Classes of clause according to structure
There are many class distinctions that can be made at the rank of a clause. One of these distinctions is between
Finite clause; and
It should be noted that the verbal element is central to the clause and the status of the clause (as finite or non-finite) is dependent on the form of the verb chosen.
The Finite Clause
A finite clause is a main clause or a subordinate clause that has a finite verb.a finite verb is a verb that indicate tense (present,past) or modality
Consider the underlined clauses (where (1) is a main clause and (2) a subordinate clause) below:
1.She writes books. (Note: the verb is present, and the subject She agrees in number with the verb writes. They are both third person singular)
2.He said that he loves me. (Note: the verb loves is present, and the subject he agrees in number with the verb)
other examples finite clauses are italized below
1.The fishermen are mending their net.
2.We dined at a cheap restaurant.
3.She must be feeling sick.
4.I was watching TV.
5.That you don’t like yoghurt surprises me.
6.I am sure that things will get better.
7.That is why I came here.
Please identify the finite verbs in the highlighted clauses for discussion with your tutor
Non-finite clauses have no finite verbs (i.e. no ‘tensed verb’ or no modal verb).
That is, they are clauses that do not express person, tense, or modality.
In other words, they are clauses that do not indicate the past or present tense and/or number and modality.
Forms of Non-finite clauses
Non-finite clauses manifest in four different ways depending on the form of the verb group:
1. To-infinitive clause
2.Bare infinitive clause
3.–ing participle clause
4.–ed or –en participle clause
Forms of Non-finite clauses–to infinitive
With the to-infinitive clause, the verb comes after the word “to”. Examples are highlighted below:
1.They want to hire a caravan.
2.We wanted to go to the seaside.
3.John believes the prisoner to be innocent.
4.Kids like to play on computers.
5.I am going to the cinema to watch a play.
Forms of Non-finite clauses–ing participle clause
The -ing participle clause is also called present participle clause.
In this clause, the verb ends in –ing and there is no tensed verb before the participle. Examples are highlighted below:
1.Overtaking a moving vehicle is more dangerous.
2.You are the only one capable of solving the problem.
3.I have a brother living in Accra.
4.We found Ann sitting in the garden.
5.Eating his dinner, he read through a magazine.
Forms of Non-finite clauses-ed participle clause
The -ed or -en participle clause is also called past participle clause. In this clause, the past participle form of the verb is used. Examples are highlighted below:
1.Excited by the news, Dora shouted for joy.
2.Supported by the World Bank, Ghana overcame the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trained as an acrobat since young, she has amazed audiences with her superb skills
NOTE: The verb form in the –ed or –en
participle clause does not always end in -ed or
-en. This is because some verbs are irregular. Examples are highlighted below:
1.Taken three times a day, these pills should clear the rash.
2.Given another chance, he apologized for his misdeeds.
3.The invitations were sent, written by hand.
Forms of Non-finite clauses-bare infinitive
With this type of non-finite clause, the verb
is in its bare form. Examples are highlighted below:
1.Kyei helped her carry her bags upstairs.
2.Can you help him do his homework?
3.Nobody made me do it.
4.We didn’t see them walk in the street.
5.All I did was turn on the light.
structural properties of non-finite clauses
The non-finite clauses:
can appear with or without subject;
can appear with or without a subordinator;
do not contain modals;
can take an auxiliary ‘have’ in the –ing or infinitive forms (e.g. Having spoken to him, my friend accepted to go.);
can be in the passive form; and
are usually embedded or non-embedded subordinate clauses.
The finite clauses have finite verb forms while the non- finite clauses have non-finite verb forms.
A finite verb form typically inflects for tense or indicates modality while a non-finite verb form does not.
There are four main types of non-finite clauses:
2.bare infinitive participle clause
3.-ing participle clause
4.-ed participle clause
Self study questions
Name the three main classes of clauses according to the form of the verb.
2.With appropriate examples, distinguish between finite and non-finite clauses.
3.With appropriate illustrations, discuss the forms of non-finite clauses.
4.State whether the underlined expression is a finite or a non-finite clause:
a)I had a farm in Hohoe at the foot of Mount Afadja.
b)We are taking an online class.
c)They arrived home to find that the house had been burgled.
d)Anyone knowing his whereabouts should contact the police.
e)I’m afraid asking for special consideration won’t do any good.