Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Finite Verbs

Dear Readers,

In this post I wish to discuss the concept of finite verbs .A finite verb is a verb which shows a particular tense, person or number. Look at the verb -form goes.It shows a particular tense , doesn't it ? Simple Present Tense . It shows a particular number, too. The Singular Number. Similarly, the verb-form am indicates a particular person --first person singular . ,and a particular tense as well .

Please remember that the concept of finite verbs is borrowed from Latin grammar .It has only limited application in English grammar . It lacks explicitness when applied to English .

In Latin there are no compound verb-forms as in English . In English ,except simple present tense and simple past tense , all other tenses make use of compound verb-forms .The firsr element of a verb expression may be taken as the finite verb . Example

I am writing a letter.

In this sentence the verb expression am writing has two elements The first element am is the finite verb .because it shows a particulat person and tense . Writing , on the contrary , shows no particular person or tense . It is ,therefore. called a non-finite verb .

As I have said the concept of finite verbs has only limited application in English grammar . It is highly relevant in Latin grammar.because theLatin finite verb provides a lot of information. . In English grammar it is still useful from the point of view of concord . Finite verbs change their forms according to the number and person of the subject . In compound verb-forms there may be two ,or sometimes more than two, auxiliary verbs . The first auxiliary is the finite verb and it agrees with the subject in number and person . Look at the following sentences

*I am writing a letter .

*He is writing a letter.

* They are writing letters .

*She was writing a letter.(past tense )

*I was writing a letter(. past tense)

*They were writing letters .(past tense )

The finite verbs indicate number and person of the bubject . and also the tense .The use of was in in fourth and fifth sentences may be noted -was shows no particular person!

When lexical verbs are used without auxiliaries they behave like finite verbs . --They inflect for number and tense .Past tense forms of lexical verbs, however, do not inflect for number and person The only exception is the verb beIt alone has two separate forms according to number --was and were.

It is clear that the concept of finite verbs does not fit well into English grammar . The concept of operator has far greater application in English grammar .

Dear readers , I will discuss infinitives in my next post

Thank you

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