[Using all of the profane German I had ever heard], I ordered him to come out.

I was watching an English grammar video which stated that the the above sentence contains a non-finite clause in the square brackets. It states that Using is the head verb and hence a gerund participle.

What I am confused about here is that, to me, I had ever heard is surely tensed? As such would this not make it a finite clause?


2 Answers 2


Using all of the profane German I had ever heard, I ordered him to come out.

The non-finite clause starts at: "using all of the profane German".

"The main verb has to be: Their main verb is either a to-infinitive [3], a bare infinitive [4], an -ed form [5], or an -ing form [6]:" The main verb for these purposes is defined as the first verb. That is "using" here.

non-finite clauses

Therefore, the non-finite clause is not "[that] I had ever heard". That is a complementizer clause, which is also subordinate to "using the most profane German":

Complement clauses They are introduced by a complementizer (that, whether, for). They are also referred to as noun clauses, nominal clauses, or completive clauses.

"[that] I have every heard" is a complement of "German". There is an implied "that" for purposes of grammatical analysis.

Types of embedded clauses


[Using all of the profane German I had ever heard], I ordered him to come out.

"I had ever heard" is indeed tensed (finite) but it is a subordinate clause, more specifically a relative clause modifying the nominal "profane German". The subordinate clause is said to be 'embedded' because it is a dependent within the larger construction.

It is the bracketed matrix (main) clause that is non-finite since it has the non-finite verb "using" as head.

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