Like the word grammar itself, the grammatical term gerund is often mentioned with a shudder. If you already understand all about gerunds, this post is not for you. If you’d like to review the concept, read on.
A gerund is a verbal. If you’ve read previous posts about present and past participles, you know that a verbal is one of the principal parts of the verb that retains some verb functions at the same time it is being used as a different part of speech.
A gerund is an -ing verb form used as a noun.
Like a verb, a gerund can take objects and be modified by adverbs and adverbial phrases, but its function in a sentence is to serve as a noun–a noun that ends in -ing.
What do nouns do? Nouns are used as the following parts of a sentence:
2. Direct Object
3. Subject Complement
4. Object of a Preposition
Anything a noun can do, a gerund can do–because a gerund is a noun. A gerund is a noun that ends in -ing. Gerunds may be used alone or as part of a phrase.
1. Gerund as the subject of a sentence
Reading is her favorite pastime. (Reading is a gerund used alone as the subject of the sentence.)
Studying English has its rewards. (Studying is a gerund that has a direct object, “English.” The gerund phrase functions as the subject of the verb “has.”)
Picnicking in the woods has its downside. (Picnicking is a gerund modified by a prepositional phrase, “in the woods.” The gerund phrase is the subject of the verb “has.”)
2. Gerund as a direct object
My Aunt Rose loves traveling. (Traveling is a gerund used alone as the direct object of the verb “loves.”)
After a week in the wild, we appreciate sleeping inside. (Sleeping is a gerund modified by the adverb “inside.” The gerund phrase is the direct object of the verb “appreciate.”
Farhad enjoys singing in the shower. (Singing is a gerund modified by a prepositional phrase, “in the shower.” The gerund phrase is the direct object of the verb “enjoys.”
3. Gerund as a subject complement
My cats’ favorite occupation is sleeping. (Sleeping is a gerund that completes the being verb “is.”
Jack’s daily exercise is running laps. (Running is a gerund that has a direct object, “laps.” The gerund phrase completes the being verb “is.”
Hester’s hobby is gardening on her rooftop. (Gardening is a gerund modified by a prepositional phrase, “on her rooftop.” The gerund phrase completes the being verb “is” and restates the subject.
4. Gerund as the object of a preposition
His parents punished him for stealing. (Stealing is a gerund functioning as the object of the preposition “for.”)
The search party rescued the child by climbing a cliff. (Climbing is a gerund that has a direct object, “cliff.” The gerund phrase functions as the object of the preposition “by.”
Falstaff attempts to flee by hiding in a laundry basket. (Hiding is a gerund that has a prepositional phrase, “in a laundry basket.” The gerund phrase “hiding in a laundry basket” is itself the object of a preposition: “by.”)
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