I wonder if you guys can help me?

I'm really struggling to identify non-finite clauses as the online definitions (infinitives and -ing forms) don't seem adequate to explain them.

For example, in the clause complex:

Scientists are now capable of creating new types of crop || by taking genetic material from one, or more, existing plants, || and engineering them into the genes of another species.||

Is it only the first clause that is finite (as the others are all in the -ing form)?

If not can you please explain why?

Thanks for your helps,


  • 1
    The creating, taking and engineering clauses are all gerund-participial non-finite clauses. The creating clause is complement of the preposition "of" and the other two are coordinated complements of the preposition "by". The verb in the matrix clause is the finite copula "be", which has the entire sequence starting with "now capable" as one large adjectival phrase as predicative complement of "be" in its ascriptive sense
    – BillJ
    Feb 18, 2016 at 11:34
  • 1
    @Araucaria Yeah, I must stop doing that! (Btw, I made a small correction to my comment, hence the replacement.
    – BillJ
    Feb 18, 2016 at 11:36
  • Thanks @BillJ for showing me how much you know but I could do with an answer which sheds a little more light thanks.
    – user152022
    Feb 18, 2016 at 11:42
  • @user152022 I'm not sure what more I can add, but I've posted an answer which I hope answers your concerns.
    – BillJ
    Feb 18, 2016 at 11:58

1 Answer 1


The only finite clause is the matrix one (the entire sentence), with the finite "be" as its verb. The subordinate clauses - there are three of them - are all non-finite gerund-participials, sometimes called ing clauses:

  1. Creating new types of crop.
  2. Taking genetic material from one or more existing plants.
  3. Engineering them into the genes of another plant.
  • That's the spirit @BillJ! Thank you, this helps a lot.
    – user152022
    Feb 18, 2016 at 11:59

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