• All the verb phrases we’ve looked at so
far -- active, passive, transitive,
intransitive, whatever -- have been
finite verb phrases.
• They are finite because they can show
tense and agreement with a subject.
Characteristics of Non-finites
• Non-finite verbs are another category of
verbs. These verbs:
– Do not show tense or agreement with a
– Do not have a -do or modal auxiliary AND
– If the nonfinite has a subject, the subject
pronoun is not in subject case. It is
generally in the possessive form.
Categories of Non-Finites
• Infinitives: full and bare
• Participles: -ing and past
When friends arrive at your home, a dog goes into a frenzy,
barking, leaping and pawing at the newcomer. “Attention!” he
begs, as his excited nails rake a guest's linen blazer. While the
dog does everything possible for approval, from racing around
the room to bouncing like a basketball, the cat is usually
nowhere to be seen. Cats prefer to observe new arrivals from
afar. For instance, under the bed or atop the refrigerator.
Maybe, if the cat is in the mood, she will come out to
acknowledge this New Person with a tail twitch, a cautious
once-over. But that is it. No jumping on laps or humping of legs.
Invited to your dinner party, a cat will stay discreetly out of the
way, while a dog lusts for -- and sometimes runs away with -the main course.
• Non-finites can be infinitives.
• There are two types of infinitives: full
• The bare form does not have a “to” in
front of it and is, essentially, just the
base/simple form of the verb.
• Example: That dog made me go crazy!
• The cat is usually nowhere to be seen.
• Maybe, if the cat is in the mood, she will
come out to acknowledge this New
Person with a tail twitch, a cautious
• Cats prefer to observe new arrivals from
• Non-finites can also be gerunds.
• Gerunds look like participles (they have
-ing forms), but they aren’t.
• While the dog does everything possible
for approval, from racing around the
room to bouncing like a basketball, the
cat is usually nowhere to be seen.
• No jumping on laps or humping of legs.
• Non-finites can also be participles (both
-ing and past participles).
• When friends arrive at your home, a
dog goes into a frenzy, barking, leaping
and pawing at the newcomer.
• Invited to your dinner party, a cat will
stay discreetly out of the way, while a
dog lusts for -- and sometimes runs
away with -- the main course.
MORE: Participle Non-finites
• Except in rare structures, participles
generally don’t have subjects, but they
can mark perfect aspect:
– When friends arrive at your home, a dog goes into
a frenzy, having barked at the newcomer.
Ing-Participles vs. Gerunds
• MAJOR DIFFERENCE: Gerunds do
the work of nouns and therefore they
can be replaced by pronouns.
• Participles can’t.
– Gerund: I enjoy criticizing WSU’s
administration. >>I enjoy it.
– Participle: Criticizing WSU’s
administration, I left the room in a huff. >>
BAD: It, I left the room in a huff?????
• Participles generally don’t have
• Gerunds can have subjects in the
– Participle: Walking down the street, I got
angry at all the trash!
– Gerund: His walking down the street
• We’ll learn more about possessives
later in the course, but for now, keep
the following in mind.
• A possessive is either a noun with an
apostrophe (the teacher’s book, Liz’s
computer) or a possessive pronoun.
• Possessive Determiner Pronouns
• Participles in certain functions
(adverbial) can move around in the
– Example: Walking down the street, I felt
sick.>> I felt sick, walking down the street.
• Gerunds cannot move.
– Example: I enjoy walking down the
street.>> BAD: Walking down the street I
• A participle is said to “dangle” when its
understood subject is not the subject of
the main clause (the one with the finite
verb phrase in it).
Detecting DPs - 1
• Check out the finite verb first and be
sure you know what the subject is.
• Blowing down the street, I kicked some
• FINITE VERB PHRASE: kicked
Detecting DPs - 2
• Figure out the understood subject of the
• Blowing down the street, I kicked some
• Understood subject: Leaves. Leaves
(not people) blow down streets.
Detecting DPs - 3
• When the subject of the finite verb (I) is not
the same as the understood subject of the
participle (leaves), you have a dangling
• If possible, move the participle so that the
subject-participle relationship is clearer.
– I kicked some leaves blowing down the street.
– I kicked some leaves as they blew down the
Dangling Past Participles
• These types of participles are best read
as passives to understand the subject.
– Licensed, the owner brought the puppy
– SUBJECT OF FINITE VERB: OWNER.
– SUBJECT OF PAST PARTICIPLE: PUPPY
(PUPPY IS/WAS LICENSED).
– Correction: The puppy licensed, the
owner brought it home.
– The puppy was licensed so the owner
brought it home.