Spanish non-finite verb forms / Formas no personales del verbo




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1. Definition
2. The infinitive
3. The gerund
4. The participle









1. Definition

      

     The non-finite verb forms are invariable non conjugated forms. The only form that can change in number and gender is the participle when it is used as an adjective. But when it is used to form the perfect tenses (with the verb haber), it remains invariable.



Form              Type                            Examples


Infinitive
Simple
Comer / To eat.
Perfect ( haber + participle)
Haber comido / To have eaten.
Gerund
Simple
Comiendo / Eating.

Perfect ( habiendo + participle)
Habiendo comido / Having eaten.
Participle
Only one form.
Comido / Eaten.



As perfect non-finite verb forms are scarcely used, we are going to focus on the simple forms.




2. The infinitive



The infinitive (infinitivo) is the basic form of the verb.


 Conjugation                    Example


1st: ending in –ar
Am-ar (to love)
2nd: ending in –er
Com-er (to eat)
3rd: ending in –ir
Viv-ir (to live)




 Frequent uses                               Examples


Subject
Reírse es bueno para la salud / Laughing is healthy.
Predicate
Querer es poder / Where there’s a will there’s a way.
Complement
Calló al entrar él /  He/she stopped talking when he went in. 
Es fácil de hacer / It’s easy to do.
Object
Me gusta mirarte / I like looking at you.
Quisiera habértelo dicho antes / I wish I had told you before.





As you can see, Spanish infinitive is very often translated as a gerund in English. Notice the unstressed personal pronouns attached to the verb ending. 




3. The gerund



The gerund (gerundio)  usually refers to the duration of an action or state. It is not as usual in Spanish as in English.



Conjugation                     Example


1st: ending in –ando
Am-ando (loving)
2nd: ending in –iendo/          -yendo*
Com-iendo (eating)         
3rd: ending in –iendo/         -yendo*
Viv-iendo (living)



  Verbs ending in vowel + -er/-ir form their gerund in –yendo.



   Frequent uses                                Examples


Verb phrase (with a conjugated auxiliar verb)
Estoy leyendo / I’m reading.
Sigo pensando en ti / I’m still thinking of you.
Previous or simultaneous action
Como viendo la tele / I’m watching tv while I’m eating.
Oyendo el ruido, salí / On hearing the noise, I went out.
Adverb
¿Has venido corriendo? / Have you come running?





4. The participle



The participle (participio) is invariable ONLY when it is used with the verb haber to form the perfect tenses. In the rest of the cases, it agrees in gender and number with the noun it refers to.



Conjugation              Example


1st: ending in –ado
Am-ado (loved)
2nd: ending in –ido
Com-ido (eaten)    
3rd: ending in –ido
Viv-ido (lived)




    Frequent uses                                Examples


To form perfect tenses (with the verb haber)
Hoy ha llovido mucho / Today there has been heavy rain.
¿Ha llegado Ana? / Has Ana arrived?
Predicate
Estaba agotada / I was exhausted.
Adjective
Voy a comer huevos cocidos / I’m going to eat hard boiled eggs.  



IMPORTANT


This is the only participle used in current Spanish. The ancient present participle (ending in –nte) acts nowadays as an adjective or a noun. Please, take care not to confound it with the English gerund and present participle, which are written the same way. You will see that Spanish non conjugated forms use is quite simple.





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