# Thread: Finite vs. Infinite clauses for dummies

1. ## Finite vs. Infinite clauses for dummies

Hi,

This is my first time posting. I am taking a course wherein I have to understand the difference between finite and infinite clauses.

On a basic level I understand what the words mean. What I cannot grasp is how to determine if a sentence is finite or infinite.

Can anyone give me a hand...as thought you're talking to a two-year old?

Thanks.

2. ## Re: Finite vs. Infinite clauses for dummies

Non-finite clauses cannot be stand-alone clauses, meaning that they are always subclause of a finite main clause.

1)I asked him to do that.

2) Having done that, I went home.

That doesn't mean, of course, that all subclauses are non-finite.

3) I went to the house that Jack built. (both clauses are finite)

non-finite clauses can be to-clauses (infinitive), like in example 1, -ing clauses (see example 2), or even bear infinitive clauses:

I made him [to] do that

3. ## Re: Finite vs. Infinite clauses for dummies

Thank you, Mariner.

When you say non-finite clause, is that the same as an infinite clause? Your response talked mostly about non-finite clauses and at the end you said, "non-finite clauses can be to-clauses (infinitive)..." My total brain-block is about infinite and finite clauses. Even after your kind response, I have to admit I am still mostly clueless.

Can you suggest a "method" (or formula, if you will) for picking out a finite clause and an infinite clause? I have done some online exercises and my answers are correct only by chance. I don't truly understand.

Sigh...

Thank you so very much for your time.

Lara

4. ## Re: Finite vs. Infinite clauses for dummies

nonfinite clause=infinite clause

About -to infinitive clause, it's a different thing than "infinite (nonfinite) clause". See Clauses Page 3

As for a method to identify them, the easiest way is to look for the nonfinite clause "signals", such as an -ing ending, a -to+infinitive, or a bare infinitive (bare infinitive means, in essence, a case where "adding" to before the verb does not change the meaning. Here are 3 examples, one for each category. The nonfinite clauses are in bold.
1) Having been there, I don't want to go back.
2) You should tell them to finish immediately.
3) He made me do it.

If there's still something unclear, ask!

5. ## Re: Finite vs. Infinite clauses for dummies

Dear Mariner,

Thank you for this additional information. Until the information is able to sink below the epidermal level of my head, perhaps your signals will at least get me into the "safe" zone when trying to identify these types of clauses.

Thank you so very much for your time.

Lara

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