Gerunds (-ing forms)
When -ing forms are used like nouns, they are often called gerunds.
- Smoking is injurious to health.
- I like shooting.
- Trespassing is prohibited.
- Trading means buying or selling securities, goods and services.
- We got the job finished by working fourteen hours a day.
- To become a successful investor consider enrolling in an options trading education program.
- My English writing skills improve with every grammar exercise I do.
- Reading the Wall Street Journal will help you learn to manage your money.
Note that a gerund is used like a noun. But when there is a noun which has a similar meaning to an -ing form, the noun is preferred.
- We are waiting for his arrival. (NOT We are waiting
for his arriving.)
Forms of the gerund
Note the structure of present, perfect, passive and negative -ing forms.
- I like shooting. (present)
- He does not like being seen in her company. (passive)
- She loves being looked at. (passive)
- He was charged with having committed arson. (perfect)
- He complained of having been tortured by the police. (perfect passive)
- Not knowing what to do, she went home. (negative)
- Flying makes me sick. (subject)
- Trespassing is prohibited. (subject)
- We don't allow smoking in our house. (object)
- My favourite activity is reading. (complement)
- Our mistake was trusting him. (complement)
- I don't believe in buying wine as an investment. (object of a preposition)
Gerund with its own object
A gerund can have its own object.
- Smoking is injurious to health.
- Smoking cigarettes is injurious to health. (The noun
cigarette is the object of the gerund smoking.)
- I love reading.
- I love reading novels. (Novels is the object of reading)
- Killing foxes is a horrible pastime.
- I love driving a fast car.
But note that when an -ing form is used with an article, it cannot usually have a direct object. Instead, we can use an of-structure.
- The killing of foxes is a horrible pastime. (NOT The killing foxes ...)
- The smoking of cigarettes is injurious to health. (NOT The smoking cigarettes ...)
- The climbing of mountains is a good sport. (NOT
The climbing mountains ...)
Object pronouns before -ing forms
- They insisted on my resigning the post.
- Does my smoking annoy you?
- I don't mind your coming late.
- I hate all this useless arguing.
- There is no hope of his arriving on time.
- She was angry at John's trying to lie to her.
In an informal style, it is more common to use object pronouns (like John, me, him, you) instead of possessives (your, his, my, John's) with -ing forms.
- They insisted on me resigning the post.
- She was angry at John trying to lie to her.
Object forms are also preferred when the gerund is in the passive form or when the noun denotes a lifeless thing.
- We were shocked at President Kennedy being assassinated. (NOT Kennedy's ...)
- There is no danger of the roof crashing. (NOT roof's)
- There is no hope of the fog lifting for another hour. (NOT fog's)
Some verbs (e.g. see, hear, watch, feel) are normally followed by object + -ing form.
- I saw him running out of the room. (NOT I saw his ...)
It as a preparatory subject
When the subject is a phrase that includes a gerund, 'it' is often used as a preparatory subject to begin the sentence.
- It is nice talking to you. (= Talking to you is
The structure is particularly common with any/no good, any/no use, worth etc.
- It is no good your trying to deceive us. (=Your trying to deceive us is no good.)
- Is it any good my talking to him?
- It is no use trying to convince them.
- It is no fun being shot.
- Is it worth complaining about his conduct?
- It is no use waiting.
- Is it worth talking to him?
Sections in this article
Infinitives without to
Infinitive with its own subject
For-structures after adjectives
For-structures after verbs
For-structures: other uses
Infinitive clauses of purpose
Verbs that can be followed by infinitives
Adjectives that can be followed by infinitives
Nouns that can be followed by infinitives