What Are Gerunds?

Study the following sentence:

  • Teaching is my job.

Teaching is a verb ending in –ing. At the same time, it is the subject of the verb is, and hence function as a noun. (Only nouns or noun equivalents can serve as subjects and objects.) Such a form of the verb ending in –ing and used as a noun is called a gerund or a verbal noun.

Uses of the gerund

The gerund has the following uses.

As the subject of a verb

A gerund can be the subject of a verb.

  • Smoking is injurious to health.
  • Cycling is healthier than driving.
  • Trespassing is prohibited.

As subject complement

A gerund can serve as the complement of a subject.

  • Our primary need is eradicating poverty.
  • His mistake was neglecting his health.

As the object of a verb

A gerund can be the object of a verb.

  • I enjoy swimming in the sea.
  • He loves driving fast cars.

As the object of a preposition

A gerund can be the object of a preposition.

  • He is good at singing.
  • The boy was arrested for stealing a loaf of bread.

Gerunds as simple nouns

Many gerunds are now treated as simple nouns. Most of them take articles before them and form plurals with –s.

  • Partings are always painful. (Parting is a gerund derived from the verb part.)
  • I have had three fillings.
  • The lightning struck the building.

Certain verbs and adjectives are followed by a preposition. We cannot use an infinitive after them. Instead, we use an –ing form.

  • I am thinking of visiting my grandparents. (NOT I am thinking of to visit my grandparents.)
  • We were prevented from entering the hall. (NOT We were prevented from to enter the hall.)
  • You must refrain from making such remarks. (NOT You must refrain from to make such remarks.)

Other verbs and adjectives that are usually followed by a preposition are: interested in, keen on, absent from, desirous of, despair of, fond of, confident of, insist on, stop from, abstain from and prohibit from.

gerund is a form of a verb used as a nounGerunds always end in
-ing. They always act as nouns. Gerunds can function as subjects, direct objects, indirect objects, objects of a preposition, predicate nominatives, and appositives. Here are some examples of gerunds:

  • Trespassing is prohibited. (The gerund ‘trespassing’ is the subject.)
  • I love driving a fast car. (The gerund ‘driving’ is the object of the verb ‘love’.)
  • His crime, stealing a policeman’s helmet, was considered serious. (The gerund ‘stealing’ is an appositive in this sentence.)

Like a participle, a gerund can be part of a phrase. Don’t confuse gerunds and present participles, because both end in -ing. A gerund functions only as a noun, while a participle functions only as an adjective.

  • Collecting stamps is a hobby of his.
  • I hate the idea of getting old.
  • The thought of failing never entered his head.
  • Our object, collecting a million dollars for the project, cannot be easily fulfilled.

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets.

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