Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Gerunds

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
Gerunds

A gerund is a special type of verb form that functions as a noun within a sentence. The name 'gerund' might sound intimidating, but we use gerunds regularly in daily life! Let's define the term and then see how they are used.

Gerund meaning

Gerunds are a special type of word that look like verbs but function as nouns or noun phrases. Imagine a verb and a noun had a baby, that's a gerund!

Gerunds are formed with the base form of a verb plus the suffix '-ing'. They look just like the present participle form of a verb, but they actually function as the noun in a sentence.

Here are some examples:

  • Drinking excessively is bad for your health.
  • The most important part of my morning routine is showering.
  • I love to go swimming.

Notice how the gerunds aren't describing an individual's actions, rather they are acting as the subject or the object of the sentence.

Gerunds image of the word gerund StudySmarterGerunds act as the noun in a sentence - Pixabay

Gerund examples

It's possible to turn almost any verb (except modal verbs) into gerunds. Let's take a look at some further examples.

I like dancing

She's holding the shopping

The importance of being

His smoking is a problem

She won the gardening award

Sleeping doesn't come easy

Gerund phrases

A gerund phrase acts in the same way as a gerund. It includes the gerund and any modifiers and/or objects. For example:

Jumping up and down is what is making you nauseous.

Here, the subject of the sentence is not just 'jumping', but the whole phrase 'Jumping up and down'. The whole phrase is needed to give the sentence its meaning.

Take a look at the following examples and see if you can distinguish between the gerunds and gerund phrases:

  • The best way to lose weight is by playing badminton.
  • Sleeping well helps with tiredness.
  • To help with headaches, the doctor suggests drinking cold water.
  • Running is a helpful outlet.
  • Throwing his jacket over his shoulder, he walked out the front door.

Here are the answers:

  • The best way to lose weight is by playing badminton - GERUND PHRASE

  • Sleeping well helps with tiredness - GERUND PHRASE

  • To help with headaches, the doctor suggests drinking cold water. GERUND PHRASE

  • Running is a helpful outlet. GERUND

  • Throwing his jacket over his shoulder, he walked out the front door. GERUND PHRASE

Keep gerund phrases in mind when determining a sentence's subject/object.

Types of gerunds

There are six main types of gerunds. Let's look at them now.

  • Gerunds as subjects - Gerunds can function as the main subject of the sentence, e.g. 'Swimming is great'
  • Gerunds as subject complements - Gerunds can also complement the main subject e.g. 'My favourite hobby is swimming'. Here, the subject is 'favourite hobby' and the complement is 'swimming'.
  • Gerunds as direct objects - Gerunds can function as the object of the sentence, e.g. 'Mum came to admire my swimming.'
  • Gerunds as an object complement -e.g. 'I saw Will's swimming earlier'. Here, the subject is I, the object is Will, and the object complement is swimming.
  • Gerunds as objects of a preposition - Gerunds can also follow a preposition e.g. 'I am interested in swimming.'
  • Gerunds as objects of a possessive - Gerunds can be the object of a possessive e.g. 'He doesn't like her swimming.'

Gerunds vs. present participles

In the English language, it is important to distinguish between gerunds and the present participle. Though they look identical, they have different functions.

The present participle is a verb form which describes a current action. It is formed by ending the inflection '-ing' to the base form of the verb.

Gerunds, present participles acting as verbs, studysmarterPresent participles are a verb form that shows action is ongoing - Pixabay

Here are some examples of sentences with present participles;

  • Tim is wearing his new shirt.
  • While Jane was running she experienced an asthma attack.
  • Rachel heard me crying yesterday.

Can you tell the difference between these examples and the previous examples?

In these examples, the -ing words refer to an action that is or was ongoing. They are verbs acting as verbs in the sentence.

Remember: Present participles act as verbs in a sentence; gerunds act as nouns in a sentence.

If you are trying to decide whether a word is a gerund or present participle, try replacing the word in question with a similar noun:

Running is a great form of exercise.

Tennis is a great form of exercise.

The sentence remains grammatically correct, so we know that 'running' functions as a gerund in this sentence.

Compare this to the following example:

She is running as a form of exercise.

She is tennis as a form of exercise.

The sentence is no longer grammatically correct. Therefore, 'running' is functioning as a present participle verb in this example.

Gerunds and infinitives

Sometimes we have no choice but to use gerunds as particular verbs can only be followed by gerunds (e.g. running) and not infinitives (e.g to run).

Here is an example of a verb that can be followed by either a gerund or the infinitive form:

Despite my warnings, you continue to speak.

Despite my warnings, you continue speaking.

The sentence remains grammatically correct if the infinitive (to speak) is replaced by the gerund (speaking).

However, not every verb can be followed by either an infinitive or gerund. Some verbs become grammatically incorrect if the gerund is replaced with an infinitive, and vice versa.

I recommend using the Internet for research purposes.

I recommend to use the Internet for research purposes.

If our gerund (using) is replaced with an infinitive, the sentence becomes grammatically incorrect.

Recommend is one of the verbs that must be followed by a gerund.

Here are some other verbs that are only followed by gerunds:

  • Stop: Stop running down the road.

  • Enjoy: I really enjoy reading before bed.

  • Keep: Michael keeps forgetting to turn the lights off.

  • Justify: You really cannot justify deciding to leave.

  • Finish: Did you finish washing the dishes?

Again, if there is uncertainty as to whether a verb cannot be followed by a gerund, try saying the sentence aloud. If it sounds strange, the verb most likely cannot be followed by a gerund.

Conversely, particular verbs cannot be followed by gerunds. Here is an example:

Do you want to sit with me?

Do you want sitting with me?

The second sentence is grammatically incorrect as 'want' is a verb that must be followed by an infinitive and not a gerund.

Gerunds - Key takeaways

  • A gerund is a verb ending in -ing that functions as a noun.
  • A gerund phrase includes the gerund and any accompanying modifiers or objects.
  • Gerunds and present participle verbs look the same but function differently. Present participles refer to ongoing actions, while gerunds are the subject/object of their respective sentences.
  • If you are trying to decide whether a word is a gerund or a present participle, try replacing the gerund with a similar noun.
  • There are 6 main types of gerunds where they function as a subject, subject complement, direct object, object complement, object of a preposition, and object of a possessive.

Frequently Asked Questions about Gerunds

A gerund is a verb ending in -ing that is used as a noun.

A gerund phrase is a gerund and any words modifying it in a sentence. 


Eg. in the sentence 'Eating at a restaurant is a fun activity', 'eating at a restaurant' is a gerund phrase.

First, the word must end in -ing. Second, if the sentence remains grammatically correct when the word is replaced with a noun, then the word is a gerund.

In the sentence 'Swimming is a good way to exercise', 'swimming' is a gerund (-ing word used as a noun).

Gerunds as a

subject

subject complement 

direct object

object complement

object of a preposition

object of a possessive

Final Gerunds Quiz

Question

Fill in the blanks: In a sentence, gerunds ending in               -ing               act as ____ rather than ____.

Show answer

Answer

nouns; verbs

Show question

Question

What is a gerund phrase?

Show answer

Answer

A gerund phrase is a gerund and any words modifying it within a sentence. 

Show question

Question

Is this a gerund or gerund phrase?: 

To help with headaches, the doctor suggests drinking cold water.

Show answer

Answer

'drinking cold water' is a gerund phrase.

Show question

Question

Is this a gerund or gerund phrase?: 

Driving often requires complete focus.

Show answer

Answer

Could be both - the sentence remains grammatically correct whether just the gerund or the gerund phrase is replaced.

Show question

Question

What linguistic term is described as 'A word describing a current action ending in -ing.'?

Show answer

Answer

Present participle.

Show question

Question

What is the difference in the role gerunds and present participles play in a sentence?

Show answer

Answer

Present participles refer to either an ongoing or completed action while gerunds are the    subject    of the sentence. 

Show question

Question

Which of these words cannot be followed by a gerund?

Show answer

Answer

finish 

Show question

Question

Fill in the blanks: When a verb is followed by a _________ a gerund must follow.

Show answer

Answer

preposition

Show question

Question

What is the difference between a gerund and a gerund phrase?

Show answer

Answer

A gerund phrase also includes any words modifying it.

Show question

Question

What tool is useful in deciphering whether an -ing word is a gerund?

Show answer

Answer

Replacing the gerund with another noun.

Show question

Question

How do you identify a gerund in a sentence?

Show answer

Answer

The word must end in -ing and the sentence must remain sensical if the word is replaced with a similar noun. 

Show question

Question

In the sentence: 'Writing stories is my favourite pastime', where is the gerund/gerund phrase.

Show answer

Answer

'Writing stories' is the gerund phrase.

Show question

Question

True or False: Gerund phrases contain gerunds.

Show answer

Answer

True - Gerund phrases include gerunds and any other words modifying the gerund.

Show question

Question

True or False: When a noun is followed by a preposition a gerund must follow. 

Show answer

Answer

False - When a VERB is followed by a preposition a gerund must follow. E.g - They spoke only in passing.

Show question

Question

True or False: 

Particular verbs can only be followed by gerunds and not infinitives. 

Show answer

Answer

True - E.g 'recommend' is a verb that can only be followed by a gerund.

Show question

Question

What are the six main types of gerunds?

Show answer

Answer

Gerunds as a

subject

subject complement 

direct object

object complement

object of a preposition

object of a possessive

Show question

Question

Identify the type of gerund;

'Meditating is amazing'

Show answer

Answer

Subject

Show question

Question

Identify the type of gerund;

'Maria loves meditating'

Show answer

Answer

Direct object

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Gerunds quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.