English Language


Shiken premium Upgrade Banner

Explaining Gerunds: A Comprehensive Guide to Recognizing and Utilizing This Unique Word Class

Gerunds are a distinctive type of word that shares characteristics of both verbs and nouns. They are created by adding the suffix '-ing' to the base form of a verb and can serve as nouns or noun phrases in a sentence. Think of them as the offspring of a verb and a noun.

In contrast, present participles are verb forms that denote ongoing action. They also end in '-ing' but function as verbs within a sentence. It's crucial to distinguish between gerunds and present participles as they may appear similar, but have different roles in a sentence.

Gerunds can fulfill six main roles as the subject, subject complement, direct object, object complement, object of a preposition, and object of a possessive. Let's discuss each one in more detail:

  • Gerunds as Subjects - As the main subject of a sentence, gerunds represent the action or activity being performed. For example, "Swimming is great," where "swimming" is the subject.
  • Gerunds as Subject Complements - Gerunds can also complete the main subject, as in "My favorite hobby is swimming." Here, "swimming" complements the subject "favorite hobby."
  • Gerunds as Direct Objects - In this role, gerunds receive the action of the verb. For instance, "I love dancing" where "dancing" is the direct object of the verb "love."
  • Gerunds as Object Complements - Similar to direct objects, gerunds can also serve as the complement to a direct object. For example, "I found her singing at the party," where "singing" complements the direct object "her."
  • Gerunds as Objects of Prepositions - When a gerund follows a preposition, it acts as the object of that preposition, such as in "She's afraid of flying," where "flying" is the object of the preposition "of."
  • Gerunds as Objects of Possessives - Lastly, gerunds can be the object of a possessive noun, as in "I admire John's cooking," where "cooking" is the object of the possessive noun "John's."

It's important to remember, if you are having difficulty determining whether a word is a gerund or present participle, try substituting it with a similar noun. If it still makes sense in the sentence, then it is a gerund.

In summary, gerunds are verb forms that function as nouns and present participles are verb forms that express ongoing action. By understanding the distinctions between the two, you can confidently identify and incorporate gerunds into your writing.

Join Shiken For FREE

Gumbo Study Buddy

Explore More Subject Explanations

Try Shiken Premium
for Free

14-day free trial. Cancel anytime.
Get Started
Join 20,000+ learners worldwide.
The first 14 days are on us
96% of learners report x2 faster learning
Free hands-on onboarding & support
Cancel Anytime