Verbals

Verbals is another name for non-finite verbs.

The Important Questions Are...

  1. What are non-finite verbs?
  2. Why are they called Verbals?
  3. What are the things to learn about them?

What Are Non-Finite Verbs?

Simply put, non-finite verbs are verbs which are not finite verbs. Looks very simple, but it's not entirely so.

The basic points of difference between finites and non-finites are...

  1. No Subject-Verb Agreement

    A non-finite verb does not change according to its subject, as a finite verb does.

    He likes to drive. They like to drive.
    The non-finite verb to drive remains constant, while the finite verb like/likes changes (number and person) according to the subject he/they.

    You can read more about this point in the subject-verb agreement page.

  2. No Tense Changes

    Non-finite verbs are not affected by tense changes, as finite verbs are...

    They like to drive. They liked to drive.
    The finite verb shows two different forms like and liked for the simple present and simple past tenses respectively. For the non-finite verb to drive, tense is irrelevant.

Why Are Non-finites Called Verbals?

We often call the different types of non-finite verbs a "verbal something," depending on the non-verblike work they do. So the word verbal becomes a kind of generic (common) name for them. There are three types of Non-finite verbs: the Infinitive, the Gerund, and the Participle.

  • The Gerund is known as a verbal noun.

  • the Participle is often called a verbal adjective.

  • The Infinitive too does the work of a noun, or an adjective, or an adverb (adjective modifier, purpose modifier, etc). We usually don't call the infinitive a verbal noun or a verbal adjective, only because we don't want to confuse it with the gerund or the participle.

What do we need to learn about Verbals?

Besides what we have already seen above, we need to learn about their different types. Follow the links below for the three different non-finite verbs.

The Infinitive

This page deals with...

  • What is an infinitive?
  • How can we recognize an infinitive?
  • What work does it do in sentences?
  • What meaning does it convey?

The Gerund

This page discusses...

  • What is a gerund?
  • Its morphology (its word-shape)
  • Its syntax (its functions)
  • The semantics of a gerund (its meaning)

The Participles

Since there are different types of participles, you will find several pages here dealing with them...

For Further Reading and Study...


Related Pages

The Study of Verbs

What is a Verb?

List of Verbs

Principal Parts of Verbs


Types of Verbs

Finite Verbs

Non-Finites (Verbals)

Transitive Verbs

Helping Verbs


Verb Tenses

Subject-Verb Agreement