INFINITIVE, GERUND & PARTICIPLE
TYPES OF VERBS
Chiefly we divide verbs in the following two categories
1. Finite Verbs 2. Non-finite verbs
A verb that has its subject is called a Finite Verb; e.g.
a) Rahul is good player of cricket.
b) He sings very well.
In the first sentence the verb IS has Rahul as its subject and in the second the verb SINGS has HE as its subject, so both of these verbs are finite verbs.
A verb that does not have a subject, is called a Non-finite Verb. Such a verb does work of a noun or an adjective in a sentence. They are called INFINITIVES, GERUNDS and PARTICIPLES.
Understand this here:
A word referring to ‘an action or a state of being’ can work as either a verb or a noun or an adjective. If it works as a noun it is either the infinitive or gerund, and if it performs the action of an adjective it’s the participle. To understand this read it carefully.
They try to beat me.
We see that there are two action words in the above sentence TRY and BEAT. One of them is verb and the other not. Now, let’s try to find out the verb out of them. Of course we put WHO or WHAT before an action word to find the subject; if an answer is there to the question, it’s a verb, otherwise not. So two questions now are ’WHO TRY?’ and ‘WHO BEAT?’. We see that the question WHO TRY is giving an answer THEY, but the question WHO BEAT isn’t giving us any answer. So, we can say that the word TRY is the verb in the sentence, but the word BEAT not.
Now we’ll see what function the action word BEAT is doing here. We know that if we put WHOM or WHAT after the verb we get the object of that verb as our answer. But BEAT is an action word, so the question will be ‘TRY TO DO WHAT’, not just ‘TRY WHAT’. The answer to the question ‘TRY TO DO WHAT?’ is BEAT of course. Therefore we can say that BEAT is the object of the verb TRY. Also we know that an object is always a noun or pronoun. BEAT is not a pronoun at all, so it’s now clear that the action word BEAT is a noun here.
‘An action word or a state of being’ doing work of a noun is called an infinitive if it’s in the first form of a verb. So, BEAT is an infinitive in the above sentence.
An infinitive can take the word TO before it or not. If the word TO is there before an infinitive, it is called full infinitive. And if an infinitive is without the word TO it’s called bare infinitive; e.g.
a) She wants to take a rest. (TO TAKE: full infinitive)
b) My wife made me take a rest. (TAKE: bare infinitive)
Most of the verbs take full infinitive i.e. TO-INFINITIVE, but there are some verbs that do not take full infinitive, rather it’s a bare infinitive after them. They also take an object after them. Let’s see what they are:
VERBS THAT TAKE BARE INFINITIVE
1. I heard him sing a song.
[You can know from above that the verb here is HEARD, and SING an infinitive. Also SING is without TO; so it’s a bare
infinitive; and HIM: object of the verb HEARD]
2. He made me move my car.
3. I saw him do his homework.
4. She noticed him run away from the house. 5. They let him see the case file.
6. My mother bade me go to the bazar. 7. I overheard him say that he was thinking of moving to Nagpur.
NOTE-I: All these verbs except LET take full infinitive in the passive voice. See the following sentences in both active and passive; e.g.
ACTIVE: He made me move my car. (MOVE: bare infinitive)
PASSIVE: I was made to move my car. (MOVE; to infinitive)
NOTE-II: The basic verbs of sensation SEE, HEAR, FEEL, SMELL, and LISTEN (TO), NOTICE, OVERHEAR, WATCH can also be followed by OBJECT+PRESENT PARTICIPLE. What the Present Participle is made understood later in this chapter; e.g.
1. I see him crossing the road every day. (CROSSING: participle) infinitive)
= I see him cross the road every day. (CROSS: bare present)
2. Didn’t you hear the clock striking?
= Didn’t you hear the clock strike?
3. I saw him changing the wheel.
=I saw him change the wheel.
4. She smelt something burning and saw smoke rising.
=She smelt something burn and saw smoke rise.
5. I watched them rehearsing the play.
=I watched them rehearse the play.
HELP is the only verb that may be followed by either the full infinitive or the bare infinitive; e.g.
He helped us to push it. (PUSH: to-infinitive)
= He helped us push it. (PUSH: bare infinitive)
Study these sentences:
1. Ram is swimming in the river at the moment.
2. Swimming is a good exercise.
Of course SWIMMING in the first sentence is a verb. But if you see, SWIMMING in the second sentence is the subject, hence it’s noun here. Now again we see that an action word is a noun, but unlike the infinitive its form is different. Such an action word is called GERUND; means an action word with ING is a gerund if it’s doing the work of a noun.
Action words placed immediately after prepositions must be in the gerund form:
1. He left without making the payment. (WITHOUT: preposition; MAKING: gerund)
2. I apologize for not writing before. (FOR: preposition; WRITING: gerund)
3. She insisted on paying for herself. (ON: preposition; PAYING: gerund)
4. Before starting to attempt the paper, read the instructions carefully. (BEFORE: preposition; STARTING: gerund)
5. Have you any objection to going to her house? (TO: preposition; GOING: gerund)
Read the following sentence:
Yesterday Raman met a girl carrying a basket of flowers.
Now see what function the word CARRYING is doing here. Of course it’s describing the GIRL, which is a noun. We know a girl describing a noun or pronoun is an adjective. So, the word CARRYING is an adjective here. Also CARRYING is an action word. An action word or a state of being doing the work of an adjective is called PARTICIPLE.
PARTICIPLES are of three types:
A) Present Participle
B) Past Participle
C) Perfect Participle.
A) PRESENT PARTICIPLE
Now see the given example once again ‘Yesterday Raman met a girl carrying a basket of flowers’. This sentence though is in the past, the participle CARRYING is in the present in fact. The action denoted by CARRYING was present when Raman met the girl, means she was carrying the basket at the time he met her. Such a participle is called present participle.
This has the same form that the gerund has i.e. ING form. Now the question is how to know whether an action word with ING is a gerund or participle. We have now known that the gerund works as a noun and the participle as an adjective. So, if an ING form of an action word is a noun in the sentence it’s a gerund, and if it’s an adjective it’s a participle. See how:
1. The old man is tired of WALKING.
2. WALKING along the road, Rohit noticed a dead cobra.
In the first sentence the word WALKING is used after a preposition, i.e. OF. We know that a preposition must follow a noun/pronoun. Hence, WALKING is a noun here; means a GERUND.
We can re-write the second sentence as: Rohit noticed a dead cobra when he was walking along the road. Obviously the
phrase ‘WHEN HE WAS WALKING ALONG THE ROAD’ is describing the noun ROHIT; hence it’s an adjectival phrase, the main word of which is WALKING. As WALKING is the main word of an adjectival phrase, it’s an adjective. Therefore it’s a participle here.
The present participle denotes an action going on or incomplete action.
See these examples on use of the present participle:
1. Loudly knocking at the gate, he asked to enter my room.
2. The child, thinking all was safe, attempted to cross the
3. I see him passing my house every day.
4. The boy stood on the burning deck.
5. The weather being fine, I went out.
B) PAST PARTICIPLE
A burnt child dreads the fire. (Ek jlaa huaa bachchaa aag se dartaa hai.)
The word BURNT is describing the noun CHILD, hence it’s a participle here. As it’s in the third form of a verb, it represents a completed action/state of being (The child who was burnt already). So it’s called PAST PARTICIPLE.
The past participle denotes a completed action, and that action expresses a passive action. See these examples on use of the past participle:
1. Blinded by a dust storm, they fell into disorder.
2. Driven by hunger, he ate every thing.
3. We saw many trees laden with fruit.
4. The man seems worried.
C) PERFECT PARTICIPLE
Besides the present and past participle, we have one more participle what is called the PERFECT PARTICIPLE. It represents an action as completed at some past time. Its form is ‘HAVING+V3’ in the active voice and ‘HAVING BEEN+V3’ in the passive.
Like the past participle the perfect participle denotes a completed action, but this time the action expresses an active meaning. Also there is a certain time gap between the actions. See these examples on use of the past participle.
1. Having rested, I again started to work. (Aaraam kar lene ke baad maine apni yaatraa jaari ki.)
2. The sun having risen, the fog disappeared.
INCORRECT: The sun having been risen the fog disappeared.
CORRECT: The sun having risen the fog disappeared. (Active voice is required.)
INCORRECT: Having deserted by her husband, she committed suicide.
CORRECT: Having been deserted by her husband, she committed suicide. (Passive voice is required.)
COMMON ERRORS MADE IN USAGE OF PARTICIPLES
As a participle does work of an adjective it must have a noun/pronoun to describe. Sometimes that noun/pronoun is missing from the sentence. See these sentences to understand it well.
1. WRONG: Walking in the garden, a tree fell down.
WALKING in this sentence is a present participle, so it must have a noun/pronoun to describe. But you’ll see it’s missing that. Of course the TREE is not that noun as a tree cannot walk. Therefore the correct sentence will be: While I was walking in the garden, a tree fell down.
INCORRECT: Being a rainy day, I did not go out.
CORRECT: It being a rainy day, I did not go out.
INCORRECT: Being too costly for him, he could not buy the car.
CORRECT: The car being too costly for him, he could not buy it.
NOTE-I: But sometimes we do not need to mention the subject of a participle as it’s already understood; e.g.
Being ill, I could not attend the meeting.
[In this sentence we do not need to mention the subject with the participle BEING as it’s understood that ‘I’ itself is the
NOTE-II: Some participles are also there which do not need a noun/pronoun to be associated with, they are:
ALLOWING, CONCERNING, CONSIDERING, GRANTING, JUDGING, OWING TO, REFERRING, REGARDING, SPEAKING, SUPPOSING, TOUCHING, etc; e.g.
1. He performed well, considering his age.
2. Owing to his carelessness, the accident took place.
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