Grammar: Gerund

Posted December 14, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

That gerund may have started off as a verb, but it’s a noun now. Add an -ing and that draw turns into a drawing. So instead of to do, concentrate on doing well or going at it like gangbusters.

Grammar Explanations is…

…an evolving list of the structural rules and principles that determines where words are placed in phrases or sentences as well as how the language is spoken. Sometimes I run across an example that helps explain better or another “also known as”. Heck, there’s always a better way to explain it, so if it makes quicker and/or better sense, I would appreciate suggestions and comments from anyone on an area of grammar with which you struggle or on which you can contribute more understanding.

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Credit to: English Club
Definition: A verb that ends in -ing and functions as a noun while still retaining verbal characteristic. It can take an object and be modified by an adverb.

Other verbals include infinitives and participles (used as an adjective).

Differences Between Participles, Gerunds, and Infinitives
Rule: Use the -ing form of a verb when:

Gerund vs Infinitive vs Participle:
The main problem is that participles and gerunds look alike, especially in their -ing form. It’s all the fault of those 18th century grammarians who finally settled down to make sense of the English language. You can see how much success they had, lol. Seriously, though they did do a great job with what they had at the time.

Latin was the classic language at the time, and this is where those linguists started. Gerunds and participles were treated differently in Latin, which is why they’re thought of as different now. Today’s grammarians are beginning to refer to them as gerund-participles. It’ll take awhile for this concept to catch on, so it’s important that writers today know what the current differences are. I know…it’s a pain.

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The difference is that:
Verb What It Does Examples
Gerund Functions as a noun

Always has an -ing ending

Hiking is a favorite sport in Colorado.

After running into Helen, George knew it meant a three-hour lunch.

Infinitive Base form of a verb, to ___, that functions as an adjective, adverb, or noun She had a gift to give me.

She wanted to buy the hat.

Jamie likes to hike.


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Functions as an adjective

Depending on tense, it may have an -ing or -ed [+] ending

He had hiked to Pike’s Peak.

Running into Helen meant a three-hour lunch.

Jamie’s snoring was enough to keep Marge awake all night.

Subject of a Sentence or Clause Rule: Uses -ing

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  1. Green indicates the subject

Swimming is good exercise.

Doctors say that smoking is bad for you.

After a Preposition Rule: Uses -ing

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  1. Green indicates the preposition

I look forward to meeting you.

They left without saying “goodbye”.

After Certain Verbs Rule: Uses -ing

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List of Certain Verbs
give up
mind / not mind

  1. Yellow indicates the gerund
  2. Green indicates the “certain verb”

I dislike getting up early.

Would you mind opening the window?

Exceptions Rule: Occurs when a “verb can be followed by the -ing form (gerund) or the to form (infinitive) without a big change in meaning” (English Club)

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Infinitive Gerund
It started to rain. It started raining.
I like to play tennis. I like playing tennis.
Gerund Phrase Rule: Gerund + modifiers and complements creates a gerund phrase that functions as a noun unit. It frequently combines with other phrases, especially prepositional phrases.

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  1. Green indicates the gerund phrase

Cooking for several days ahead of time reduces the work on the day of the party.

Helen hated sleeping with her baby sister in the twin bed.

Tommy isn’t interested in studying anything.

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