Finite verbs: It shows the tense of a sentence and agrees with the number and person of the subject. It is such kind of a verb that shows the action of the subject. In most cases, such verb plays the role of the main verb in a sentence. In a more simplified form, “finite” verbs are those that change their forms with the change in the number and person of their subjects in sentences. i.e. a plural verb for a plural subject; a singular verb for a singular subject.
For example: 1. “I go to school every day” but, (2.) “He goes to school every day”. 3. “I write a letter” but, (4.) “He wrote a letter”.
(Here, in sentence 1. the verb “go” agrees with its subject “I” (1st person singular number) in number and person. Again in sentence 2. the verb “goes” agrees with its subject “He” (3rd person singular number) in number and person. Sentences 3. and 4. belong to different tenses (Present Indefinite and Past Indefinite respectively).
Non-finite verbs: Now, the opposite to the above one, i.e. the verb that does not change its form with the change in the number and the person of its subject and tense of the sentence, is deemed as the “non-finite verb”. Such verbs remain in the same form in all the tenses, numbers and persons of their subjects.
For example: 1. “I want to play cricket”, 2. “He wants to play cricket”.
(Here, in both the sentences 1. and 2. the verb “to play” remains the same, though each of them belongs to a different person.)
1. “Playing cards is not allowed here”, 2. “Playing cards was not allowed there.”
(Here, in both the sentences 1. and 2. the verbal noun “playing” remains the same, though each of them belongs to a different tense.)
Learners may follow the tree below in this regard: