Gerunds (-ing forms)

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When -ing forms are used like nouns, they are often called gerunds.

Grammar notes

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.

Forms of the gerund

Note the structure of present, perfect, passive and negative -ing forms.

A gerund can be the subject, object, object of a preposition or complement of a verb.

Gerund with its own object

A gerund can have its own object.


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.

Object pronouns before -ing forms

Determiners and possessives are often used with -ing forms.

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.

Object forms are also preferred when the gerund is in the passive form or when the noun denotes a lifeless thing.

Some verbs (e.g. see, hear, watch, feel) are normally followed by object + -ing form.

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.

The structure is particularly common with any/no good, any/no use, worth etc.

Sections in this article

Infinitives: forms
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