As an English learner, you must know the answer to what is a gerund. They are necessary not only when attempting the gerunds and infinitives exercises but also for your everyday communication. You are at the right place if you wonder what gerunds are about. Edulyte’s English language test trainers have designed resources, including a free worksheet for you to excel in gerunds.
Introduction to Gerunds: uncover easy explanations with examples
A gerund is an essential component of English grammar that serves a unique purpose in constructing sentences. The suffix “-ing” is added to the base verb and functions as a noun within a sentence.
As an answer to what is a gerund, we can say that a gerund functions as a verb while in the form of a noun. Unlike other verb forms, gerunds can be subjects, objects, or complements within a sentence. They possess the characteristics of verbs and nouns, allowing for more versatile and expressive sentence construction.
For example, in the sentence “Swimming is my favourite hobby,” the word “swimming” is a gerund and functions as the subject, indicating the action being discussed.
Understanding gerunds is crucial for effective communication in English. By incorporating gerunds into speech and writing, you can dynamically express actions, emotions, and concepts. For instance, instead of saying, “I enjoy the act of swimming,” using a gerund, we can simply state, “I enjoy swimming,” which conveys the same meaning more concisely.
Definition and Characteristics of Gerunds: what you did not know about gerunds
A gerund verb is a verb form that functions as a noun within a sentence. It is created by adding the suffix “-ing” to a verb, transforming it into a verbal noun. Gerunds possess unique characteristics that distinguish them from other verb forms and nouns.
A gerund verb retains the characteristics of a verb, such as expressing action or a state of being, while also taking on the role of a noun. It can function as a sentence’s subject, object, or complement.
One of the critical characteristics of gerunds is their ability to serve as the subject of a sentence. For example, in the sentence “Swimming is a great exercise,” the gerund “swimming” acts as the subject, expressing the discussed action. Here, “swimming” takes on the role of a noun, functioning as the subject of the verb “is.”
Gerunds can also function as the object of a verb. In the sentence She enjoys dancing, the gerund “dancing” is the direct object of the verb “enjoys.”
Common Examples of Gerunds: find out how they can contribute to your language learning
Gerunds are commonly used in English to express actions, emotions, and concepts. You can get a better understanding of them with the given gerunds examples:
Subject of a sentence:
- Running is good exercise.
The gerund “running” functions as the subject of the sentence.
Object of a verb:
- They love playing soccer.
Here, the gerund “playing “is the direct object of the verb “love.”
Object of a preposition:
- He is interested in learning new languages.
The gerund “learning” functions as the object of the prepositions “in”.
A question that crops up many times in English classes is that there is a gerund pronoun. While there isn’t anything called a gerund pronoun, a gerund can be preceded by a possessive pronoun like:
I did not like his returning my pen days after he had borrowed it.
Types of Gerunds: definitions with examples explained in detail
Gerunds, as verb forms functioning as nouns, exhibit a variety of types that reflect the different roles they can play in a sentence. In your pursuit of mastering the English language, knowing the various types of gerunds and their usage is imperative.
Subject Gerunds: an easy guide to their use
Subject gerunds are formed by adding the suffix “-ing” to a verb, transforming it into a noun form that represents an action or activity. Here are some gerunds examples of subject gerunds in sentences:
- Running is a great way to stay fit.
- Singing brings joy to many people.
- Learning a new language can be challenging.
In these examples, the gerunds “running,” “singing,” and “learning” act as the subjects of the sentences.
Adding Depth and Variety to Sentence Structures
Subject gerunds contribute to sentence structures by providing depth and variety. Here’s how they accomplish this:
- Emphasising the action: By placing the gerund at the beginning of the sentence, subject gerunds emphasise the action or activity as the central idea.
- Singing brings joy to many people.
- Running is a great way to stay fit.
- Adding variety to sentence structures: Subject gerunds introduce sentence variety by starting sentences with a verb-noun rather than a traditional noun. It helps to avoid repetitive sentence structures and adds stylistic variety to writing.
- Running every morning energizes me for the day.
- Swimming in the ocean is my favourite summer activity.
Object Gerunds: how to use them?
Among the types of gerunds, there are Object gerunds formed by adding the suffix “-ing” to a verb, transforming it into a noun form that represents an action or activity. Here are some gerunds examples of object gerunds as direct and indirect objects:
Direct Object Gerunds: Direct object gerunds receive the direct action of a transitive verb. They answer “what” or “whom” after the verb. Examples include:
- She enjoys reading novels.
- They appreciate his cooking skills.
- He hates doing household chores.
In these examples, the gerunds “reading,” “cooking,” and “doing” act as the direct objects of the verbs “enjoys,” “appreciate,” and “hates”, respectively.
Indirect Object Gerunds: Indirect object gerunds receive the action indirectly, often through a preposition or verb construction. They answer the question “to/for whom” or “to/for what” after the verb. Examples include:
- He gave her credit for organising the event.
- They offered assistance to those in need.
- I sent a letter to express my gratitude.
In these examples, the gerunds “organising,” “assistance,” and “expressing” act as the indirect objects of the verbs “gave,” “offered,” and “sent”, respectively.
Complementing Verb Actions: Object gerunds complement verb actions by receiving the direct or indirect action of the verb, thereby adding depth and meaning to the sentence. Here’s how object gerunds complement verb actions:
Direct Object Gerunds: Direct object gerunds specify the activity or action the subject enjoys, appreciates, hates, or performs. They add detail to the verb’s action and indicate the specific focus of the subject’s interest or feelings. For example:
- She enjoys reading novels. (Reading novels is the specific activity she enjoys.)
- They appreciate his cooking skills. (His cooking skills are the specific aspect they appreciate.)
Indirect Object Gerunds: Indirect object gerunds highlight the recipient or beneficiary of an action and provide more information about the purpose or direction of the action. They expand on the verb’s action and clarify who or what is involved. For example:
- He gave her credit for organising the event. (Organising the event is the action for which she receives credit.)
- They offered assistance to those in need. (Those in need are the recipients of the assistance.)
Complement Gerunds: simple definition and examples
Complement gerunds, also part of types of gerunds, function as noun forms of verbs that complement or complete the meaning of certain linking verbs. Linking verbs, such as “be,” “become,” or “seem,” connect the subject of a sentence to additional information or qualities.
- Her passion is dancing.
In the example, the gerund “dancing” complements the linking verb “is” and provides additional information or qualities about the subject.
- She became a successful entrepreneur by starting her own business.
- Over time, he became known for his exceptional leadership skills.
In these examples, the gerunds “starting” and “known serve as complements to the linking verb “became” and highlight the actions or transformations that occurred.
- The situation seems overwhelming, but we can overcome it together.
- He seems interested in pursuing a career in music.
The gerunds “overwhelming” and “interested” are complements in these examples.
Modifier Gerunds: explanation with examples
Modifier gerunds act as adjectives, modifying or describing nouns within a sentence. Modifier gerunds can provide information about the noun’s purpose, action, or characteristic.
Examples of modifier gerunds used to modify nouns:
- Modifying Nouns:
- The running water is refreshing.
- I bought a painting depicting a beautiful sunset.
In these examples, the gerunds “running” and “depicting” function as modifiers to the nouns “water” and “painting,” respectively.
Adding Descriptive Elements:
- The barking dog woke up the entire neighbourhood.
- I saw a group of children playing in the park.
In these examples, the gerunds “barking” and “playing” add descriptive elements to the nouns “dog” and “children”.
Gerunds in Prepositional Phrases: their use in expressing location, time, or purpose in sentences
Gerunds in prepositional phrases help convey information about the location, time, or purpose associated with an action or activity. Here are some examples:
- She sat on the bench, watching the sunset.
The gerund “watching” is part of the prepositional phrase “on the bench” that expresses the location where the action is happening.
- He spends his weekends studying for exams.
The gerund “studying,” is part of prepositional phrases “for exams” that indicate the time or duration of the action.
- She went to the store buying groceries for dinner.
Possessive Gerunds: uses and examples
Possessive gerunds are formed by adding the possessive form (‘s or ‘) to the gerund. The possessive form indicates that the noun or pronoun before the gerund possesses or is associated with the action expressed by the gerund.
- John’s singing captivated the audience.
In this example, the possessive gerunds “John’s singing” indicate ownership or association with the noun “John.”
Combining Verb-Nouns and Possessive Forms
Possessive gerunds combine verb nouns with possessive forms to express possession or association. The possessive form (‘s or’) is added to the gerund, indicating that the action or activity belongs to or is connected to the preceding noun or pronoun.
- John’s singing captivated the audience.
The noun “John” possesses the action “singing,” expressing that the singing belongs to John.
- Her brother’s cooking skills are exceptional.
The noun “brother” possesses the action “cooking skills,” indicating that the cooking skills are associated with her brother.
Gerunds as Objects of Prepositions
Gerunds can also function as objects of prepositions, indicating relationships and connections within a sentence. Prepositions are words that express relationships between different elements in a sentence. When gerunds follow prepositions, they provide additional information and clarify the nature of the described relationship or connection.
- He succeeded by working hard.
In this example, the gerund “working” is the object of the preposition “by.” It indicates the means or method through which he achieved success.
- She calmed her nerves by taking deep breaths.
Here, the gerund “taking” serves as the object of the preposition “by.” It explains the action she performed to calm her nerves.
Gerunds, as objects of prepositions, allow for expressing specific meanings. Combining gerunds with prepositions can convey various relationships, purposes, or conditions. They contribute to the overall clarity and precision of the sentence.
- He succeeded by working hard. (Expressing the means or method of success)
- She calmed her nerves by taking deep breaths. (Expressing the action taken to calm nerves)
- He found joy in painting. (Expressing the activity that brings joy)
In these examples, the gerund as an object of the preposition enriches the sentence by providing specific information about the relationship or purpose associated with the action.
Gerunds in Phrasal Verbs: get a hang of how gerunds are used in combination with phrasal verbs
Gerunds can be used as objects of phrasal verbs, creating idiomatic expressions that go beyond the literal meaning of the verb.
Let’s look at some examples:
- He ended up quitting his job.
In this phrasal verb expression, “ended up” is the verb and “quitting” is the gerund. Together, they create the idiomatic expression “ended up quitting,” which means he eventually resigned.
- She keeps putting off studying for the exam.
The phrasal verb “putting off” combined with the gerund “studying” forms the idiomatic expression “putting off studying,” which means she is continuously delaying or postponing her study sessions for the exam.
Gerunds Modifying the Meaning of Phrasal Verbs
Gerunds alter the meaning of phrasal verbs in different contexts. They provide additional information, specify the action, or add a different perspective to the verb. Here are some illustrations:
- He gave up smoking. (The gerund “smoking” modifies the phrasal verb “gave up” and indicates that he stopped the habit of smoking.)
- She keeps on talking. (The gerund “talking” modifies the phrasal verb “keeps on” and suggests that she continues or persists in talking.)
Gerunds in Fixed Expressions: common expressions that incorporate gerunds
What are fixed expressions? Fixed expressions are combinations of words with a specific meaning beyond the literal interpretation of their components. Gerunds play a significant role in many fixed expressions or idioms, adding depth and contributing to the overall meaning of these commonly used phrases.
Some examples of common fixed expressions that incorporate gerunds:
- It’s no use crying over spilled milk.
The gerund “crying” adds emphasis and signifies that being upset about something that cannot be changed is futile.
- I’m looking forward to seeing you.
The gerund “seeing” expresses anticipation or excitement, conveying the speaker’s eager expectation of meeting or being in the other person’s presence.
- He has a knack for making people laugh.
The gerund “making” emphasises creating or causing, indicating his unique talent or skill for generating laughter in others.
- Gerunds are verb forms that end in “-ing” and function as nouns in a sentence.
- Gerunds can act as subjects, objects, or complements of verbs, and they can also function in various noun roles.
- Gerunds can express actions, activities, or concepts more generally or abstractly.
- Gerunds are formed by adding the “-ing” suffix to the base form of a verb.
- Gerunds are not limited to the present tense; they can be used in different tenses.
- Gerunds are often combined with words or phrases, such as prepositions or modifiers, to provide additional meaning and context.
- Gerunds are commonly used in idiomatic expressions, fixed phrases, and specific verb patterns.
- Gerunds can add depth, variety, and clarity to sentence structures, enhancing effective communication.
- Understanding the appropriate use of gerunds and differentiating them from other verb forms, such as infinitives, is essential.
- Like any other grammatical element, using gerunds correctly and avoiding common mistakes or misinterpretations is essential.
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Frequently Asked Questions
To form gerunds from verbs, you generally add the suffix “-ing” to the base form of the verb.
- walk -walking
- run -running
- take- taking
- lie- lying
- swim- swimming
- Swimming is my favourite sport.
In this sentence, “swimming” is a gerund that functions as the sentence’s subject.
- I enjoy cooking dinner for my family.
Here, “cooking” is a gerund that serves as the object of the verb “enjoy.”
- He loves playing the guitar.
In this sentence, “playing” is a gerund that acts as the object of the verb “loves.”
Yes, gerunds can be subjects of sentences.
Some examples of gerunds used as subjects:
- Jogging is good for your health.
- Singing brings joy to my heart.
Yes, gerunds can be used as objects of verbs. When a gerund functions as an object, it receives the verb’s action. It is common to see verbs followed by gerunds to indicate the action being performed. Here are some examples of gerunds used as objects of verbs:
- I enjoy swimming in the ocean.
In this sentence, the gerund “swimming” acts as the object of the verb “enjoy.” It shows the action that brings enjoyment.
- They like playing soccer on weekends.
Here, the gerund “playing” functions as the object of the verb “like.” It indicates the activity that they enjoy.
A gerund is a verb with “-ing” and is used as a noun (walking, travelling, voting); an infinitive is the base verb preceded by “to” (to walk, to travel, to vote)
Gerunds commonly follow some verbs. These verbs include enjoy, like, dislike, love, hate, prefer, suggest, recommend, etc. For example, “He suggested going to the movies.
- Forgetting to use the “-ing” suffix: When forming gerunds, it’s essential to add the “-ing” suffix to the base form of the verb.
- Confusing gerunds with infinitives: Gerunds and infinitives can have similar functions in a sentence but have different forms and uses. It’s essential to use gerunds when a verb functions as a noun and infinitives when they act as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs. For example, saying “I want swimming” instead of “I want to swim.”
- Failing to use gerunds after certain verbs: Some verbs are commonly followed by gerunds, and using the verb’s base form or an infinitive can lead to errors. For example, saying, “He suggested going to the movies” instead of “He suggested going to the movies.”
- Overusing gerunds: While gerunds are a useful grammatical structure, using them sparingly is essential. It’s often more practical to vary sentence structures and use a mix of gerunds, infinitives, and other noun forms for more diverse and engaging writing.