What do the terms Finite and Infinite mean in regards to a Verb? Finite means limited. The word comes from the Latin Adverb finite within limits which in turn is related to the Latin Noun finis boundary, border, limit, territory. In Book I of the Aeneid, Jupiter promises the goddess Venus that her son Aeneas, founder of the Romans race, will be given an empire sine fine without end, limitless. But what exactly limits a Finite Verb? Two things; Person and Number.
Number simply means whether the Verb is Singular or Plural. Person means whether the Verb is First, Second or Third Person. This gives us six possible combinations; 1st Person Singular amo I love, 2nd Person Singular amas you love, 3rd Person Singular amat he, she or it loves, 1st Person Plural amamus we love, 2nd Person Plural amatis y’all love 3rd Person Plural amant they love.
An Infinite Verb (or Infinitive Verb) is not limited by these things. The Infinitive amare, for example, means to love. There are many Finite Verbs that invite an Infinitive Verb to complete their idea. Teach is an example; Venus nos amare docet Venus teaches us to love. Another is it behooves; nos amare oportet It behooves us to love. An Infinite Verb is also, in a very real way, a Noun. It must be, because it can be described by an Adjective bonum est amare It is good to love.
There are three Tenses of Infinite Verb. amare to love amavisse to have loved amaturum esse to be about to love. bonum est amare. It is good to love. bonum est amavisse. It is good to have loved. bonum est amaturum esse. It is good to be about to love.
The Infinitive Verb also plays a crucial role in Indirect Speech, where each of these Tenses come into their own. sperat se amare. He hopes that he loves. sperat se amavisse. He hopes that he has loved. sperat se amaturum esse. He hopes that he will love. sperat se amorem inventurum esse. He hopes that he will find love. sperat se involucrum inventurum esse. He hopes that he will find the envelope.
‘Alas,’ the artist groans hurrying out of the barber shop. He immediately rushes to the dumpster. He hopes that he will find the envelope inside.