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Online Writing Courses: Gerunds

Updated on August 30, 2013

improve writing skills and English grammar with free online writing classes

Welcome to another lesson in my free online writing courses. The main purpose of my online writing classes is to help students with writing the English language and English grammar, but some adult writers might find them helpful, also – especially as a reminder. If you want to be taken seriously as a freelance writer, you can’t afford to make a lot of mistakes with grammar and mechanics. Improving your writing skills will definitely make you more marketable. If you’re a student, my online writing classes will provide some remediation. If English is your second language, you should benefit from some of my online writing courses, too.

I’ve seen numerous problems with gerunds – especially when I was teaching writing skills. That’s the reason I decided to include this entry into my free online writing classes.

What’s a gerund?

A gerund is an –ing verb form that functions as a noun. We use them all the time, and they can function as subjects, subject complements, appositives, direct objects, indirect objects, and objects of prepositions.

Gerunds as subjects:

Horseback riding is my favorite activity.

Shopping is hectic this time of year.

Asking questions is not permitted.

Exercising is a good way to keep in shape.

Gerunds as subject complements:

My favorite sport is fishing.

Her goal was finishing the race.

His dream was becoming a minister.

His highest achievement was winning the award.

Gerunds as appositives:

My favorite sport, fishing, can be expensive.

Her goal, finishing the race, was almost impossible.

His dream, becoming a minister, will be difficult for him.

His highest achievement, winning the award, was applauded by his followers.

Gerunds as direct objects:

Johnny hates jogging.

I enjoy fishing.

She tried drinking beer, but she didn’t like the taste.

Most primary teachers like interacting with children.

Gerunds as indirect objects:

I gave his writing a good grade.

I give fishing my full attention.

The academy awarded her acting the Oscar.

The coach offered Don’s debating a few tips.

Gerunds as object of preposition:

I got stopped for speeding.

I need some tips for writing.

He offered some help with swimming.

The professor gave me some great advice about reading.

Gerunds and possession

Since gerunds function as nouns, they often show possession. This is where many people make mistakes with gerunds.

Dad came to the pool to watch me swimming. incorrect

Dad came to the pool to watch my swimming. Correct

I appreciate you asking me to the party. incorrect

I appreciate your asking me to the party. Correct

Sometimes you have to consider the overall meaning of the sentence when trying to decide to use the possessive form with a gerund:

I hate Jim playing guitar.

I hate Jim’s playing guitar.

Do you hate Jim? If so, the first sentence is correct. Do you hate to hear Jim playing the guitar? In that case, the second sentence would be correct.

Johnny didn’t like the toddler sitting next to him.

Johnny didn’t like the toddler’s sitting next to him.

In the first sentence, Johnny didn’t like the toddler – the one who was sitting next to him. In the second sentence, Johnny didn’t like that the toddler was sitting next to him. He might actually like the toddler.

When the noun before the gerund is plural or collective, it’s usually best not to use the possessive form:

The group working together was an excellent strategy.

The students studying intensely was a wonderful sight.

Improve writing skills and English grammar with practice!

If all this sounds “Greek” to you, take it one step at a time. Don’t try to improve writing skills all at once. Focus on one skill until you have it mastered. If, for example, you’re trying to improve writing skills by using gerunds correctly, make up a few of your own sentences where the gerunds function as subjects. Then move on the subject complements, appositives, direct objects, and so on. The more you practice effective writing, the more your writing skills will improve.

I have several more free online writing courses posted, if you’re interested. You can view them by clicking the links below. Happy writing!

Improve writing skills with my free online writing classes.
Improve writing skills with my free online writing classes.


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    • geetbhim profile image

      sangeeta verma 6 years ago from Ludhiana India

      Thanks for sharing, your knowledge it really helps.

    • AnkushKohli profile image

      Ankush Kohli 6 years ago from India

      Great help and resource for people with non-english background like me.

    • profile image

      Azzam 6 years ago

      hi, you guys, indeed cute skills for enhancing writing skills.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Speed, so glad you found the writing tips helpful!

    • speedbird profile image

      speedbird 7 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks Habee for sharing the links to free online writing courses. I will try one and see how it goes, I really need to improve on my writing. Thanks for sharing you knowledge

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Matherese, thanks so much! Have you checked out my other online writing courses?

    • profile image

      matherese 7 years ago

      Thank you Habee this is a really good hub. I will improve my wrting with that.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      HH, move to the front of the class!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      I am glad and grateful for doing this. I definitely makes it more clearer which helps. Thank you, Holle.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Caroline, thanks for attending my online writing courses!

      Slim, many thanks for the kudos!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Yes, Kim - both are correct. Thanks for reading!

    • slim_helmi profile image

      slim_helmi 7 years ago

      Wow, thank you so much. What an awesome idea.

    • CarolineVABC profile image

      CarolineVABC 7 years ago from Castaic

      Thank you for sharing tips for better writing-these are excellent!!! Everyone needs to improve their writing. Keep at it. God bless!

    • kimh039 profile image

      Kim Harris 7 years ago

      I don't think I use gerunds as subject complements very often. I think there are better ways to express an idea without using (or without the use of) a gerund. For example, I would say, "His goal was to learn..." vs "His goal was learning..." I hope the other way is correct! I do pride myself on proper use of English language!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Drbj, I always love reading your comments! lol

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Rich, glad you found it helpful!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      HP, great to see you here!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      LL, many thanks for reading!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, tnderhrt. Hope you find my other online writing courses helpful!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      And I always thought gerunds were those cute lil animals that run around on treadmills in their cute lil cages. Oh, yes, I remember, Holle. Those are gerbils.

      Thanks you for this explanation of gerunds. I find that often I don't know my gerund from a hole in . . . well, you get my drift. :)

    • richtwf profile image

      richtwf 7 years ago

      Excellent hub on gerunds and it was a good reminder for me too!

      Cheers Habee and God bless!

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 7 years ago from Guwahati, India

      It is a useful hub for improving writing skills.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 7 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Another useful reminder to improve writing skills.

    • tnderhrt23 profile image

      tnderhrt23 7 years ago

      I wasn't exactly sure what a gerund was, which is why I was drawn to read your hub, and I found a very informative, interesting, understandable explanation along with examples. Great job! I will definitely check out your other online writing classes! Rated up!