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Gerunds | What Is a Gerund? | Gerund Phrase & Examples

Updated on November 28, 2015
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Muhammad Rafiq is a freelance writer, blogger, and translator with a Master's Degree in English literature from the University of Malakand.

What is a Gerund?
What is a Gerund? | Source

What is a Gerund?

A gerund is a type of verb that ends in -ing and functions like a noun and a verb. It is also called a verbal noun. Take a look at the following sentences:

  1. Swimming is prohibited in this river.
  2. Hunting is allowed in this river.
  3. He is fond of singing songs.
  4. She likes writing poetry.

A gerund has a dual function. In some cases, it is a noun, while in other cases it is a verb. For example, in the 1st and 2nd sentences, the gerunds function like nouns, while in the 3rdand 4th sentences, they function like verbs. That’s why; they are called verbal nouns.

Use of Gerunds

Firstly, it is used as a subject of the verb in a sentence. Take a look at the following sentences, wherein the gerund is used as a subject of the verb:

  1. Seeing is believing.
  2. Swimming was his favourite hobby.
  3. Hikingis dangerous here.

Secondly, a gerund is also sued as an object of the verb in a sentence. Consider the following examples:

  1. He likes hiking.
  2. I hate cooking.
  3. They were found watching a movie in the cinema.

Thirdly, a gerund is used as an object of preposition. Take a look at the following sentences, wherein the gerund is placed after the preposition:

  1. She is fond of hunting.
  2. They were barred from playing here.
  3. He was punished for stealing his book.

Fourthly, a gerund is used as a complement of the verb in a sentence. Consider the following sentences, wherein the gerund acts as a complement of the verb:

  1. Seeing is believing.
  2. The hobby that I love is swimming.
  3. The thing that disturbs me is listening to pop music.

What is a Gerund Phrase?

A phrase that consists of a gerund is called a gerund phrase. A gerund phrase is just like a noun. It acts like a subject of the sentence. Take a look at the following sentences, wherein the highlighted words are gerund phrases:

  1. Walking phantoms in the graveyard scared him.
  2. Flying birds looked beautiful in the evening.
  3. Reading newspapers augments my knowledge.
  4. Knocking at the door will surprise you.

Difference between Gerunds & Present Participles

Sometimes, it’s very difficult to differentiate between a gerund and a present participle. Though, the present participle and gerund end in –ing, yet they are different from each other. A present participle functions like a verb and an adjective, while a gerund acts like a noun and a verb. Take a look at the following sentences:

  1. The sizzling oil spilt over the dish.
  2. Reading poetry is my favourit hobby.

In the first sentence, the word sizzling modifies the noun oil and acts like an adjective. That’s why; it is a present participle. If we look at the second sentence, the word reading is used as a noun and acts like a subject. That’s why; it is a gerund. Similarly, in He is reading a book the word reading is a main verb. That’s why; it is a present participle. In He likes swimming the word swimming is used as an object of the verb like. That’s why; it is a gerund.

© 2015 Muhammad Rafiq

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