Let's begin this enlightening journey into English grammar terminology with a gerund definition and examples.
A gerund is a verb form that ends in -ing and functions as a noun in a sentence.
In running shoes, "running" is an activity—you're doing something. So, you'd think "running" is a verb, but in this case, it serves as a noun, describing a type of shoe (a shoe for running).
The formation of gerunds is a straightforward process.
Take the base form of any verb and add "-ing" to the end. For instance, the verb "read" turns into reading, "write" to writing, "dance" to dancing, and "run" to running—these are all gerunds.
The beauty of the gerund is in the many roles it can play within a sentence. Here are few examples:
One important aspect to remember about gerunds is that they retain their verb-like properties even when functioning as nouns. So, they can take direct objects if they’re transitive, or be modified with adverbs.
For example, in the sentence, 'I love reading mystery novels,' 'reading' is the gerund, and it takes the direct object, 'mystery novels.' In the case of 'I miss eating out occasionally,' 'eating' is the gerund modified by the adverb 'occasionally.'
So gerunds can appear in various parts of a sentence and can fill several roles. We'll now look at some of these functions of gerunds in more detail.
A gerund can act as the subject of a sentence: 'Running is her hobby.' Here, the gerund 'running' is the subject of the sentence.
Take a look at this sentence: 'Swimming is good for health'. 'Swimming' is a gerund. It takes the place of a noun and is the subject of the sentence.
These are more examples (the verb is in bold):
It can also be a subject complement. 'His favourite activity is reading'. In this case, the gerund 'reading' is the complement to the subject 'His favourite activity...'.
Gerunds can also be direct objects: 'I enjoy painting.' Here, 'painting' is the direct object of the sentence.
It's worth mentioning at this point that gerunds are commonly used after certain verbs, including those already cited above and others such as:
Now, moving on to another vital function of gerunds, these unassuming words can also perform the function of an object of a preposition.
For instance, in the sentence, "We decided on painting the kitchen yellow", painting is the gerund that acts as the object of the preposition "on."
Many of these phases are typically those involving a verb plus proposition.
Going even deeper into the gerund pond, we encounter 'Appositive Gerunds.'
An appositive renames a noun in the same sentence or gives more information about a noun (which comes just before the gerund.
A gerund can serve this function as seen in the example, "His hobby, running, is very beneficial for his health." Here, "running" is the appositive gerund that gives additional information about his hobby.
In the following examples you'll see that the gerund (or gerund phrase) is giving more information about the noun, in bold.
Gerunds aren't just standalone stars, they can be part of a team as well. We call these 'Gerund Phrases', as mentioned above.
In "Eating spicy food often leads to heartburn," 'Eating spicy food' is a gerund phrase, with 'eating' being the gerund and 'spicy food' being the direct object of the gerund.
In some of the examples we looked at in the other sections, though I highlighted only the gerund, you'll see that many are actually gerund phrases.
A vital point to remember is not to confuse gerunds with present participles. Although both forms end in '-ing,' their usage is different.
A present participle is used as part of the continuous form of a verb, or as an adjective.
For example, in 'She is dancing,' 'dancing' is a present participle, not a gerund, as 'is dancing' is the present continuous tense being used to show what she is doing at the moment.
Or as an adjective: It was an exciting movie.
The understanding and usage of gerunds is fundamental in mastering English grammar. They turn verbs into nouns, allowing more nuanced expression.
Remember, they can be subjects, objects, or complements, and are often used after prepositions and certain verb combinations. Another type not discussed here is possessive gerunds.
Practicing the use of gerunds can elevate your language skills and expand your linguistic repertoire. So, keep exploring, keep practicing, and keep learning.
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