Gerunds and Gerund Phrases

May 22, 2021

Definition: A gerund is a verbal that uses the present participle of a verb (the ing form) but acts as a noun. It can act as a subject, a subject complement, a direct object, an indirect object, or an object of a preposition.

Reading is my favorite activity. (gerund as a subject)
Julie’s best subject is writing. (gerund as a subject complement)
Carlos really enjoys biking. (gerund as a direct object)
Maria gives singing all her attention. (gerund as an indirect object)
I got this bruise from fencing. (gerund as the object of a preposition)

Hint: Watch out for present participles used as participles (adjectives).

Participle: Let’s meet at the bowling alley. (Bowling describes alley.)
Gerund: On the weekends, I go bowling. (Bowling is acting as a noun.)

Definition: A gerund phrase is the gerund plus its object and modifiers.

Reading mystery novels is my favorite activity. (gerund phrase as a subject)
Julie’s best subject is creative writing. (gerund phrase as a subject complement)
Carlos really enjoys biking through the mountains. (gerund phrase as a direct object)
I got this bruise from fencing with my instructor. (gerund phrase as the object of a preposition)

Hint: If you’re not sure if a word or phrase is a gerund, replace it with the word something. Since a gerund is a noun, replacing it with a pronoun should work.

Playing the banjo is a skill I am learning.
Something is a skill I am learning.

Note: Because a gerund is a noun, it requires a possessive noun or pronoun before it.

Johnny’s swimming has improved this last year.
Not: Johnny swimming has improved this last year.

I think that our swimming will be even better next year.
Not: I think that us swimming will be even better next year


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