Gerunds are the elusive shapeshifters of the English language. They are created out of verbs, but function as nouns. For example: “Do you mind my borrowing these supplies?” At a quick glance, borrowing could easily be labeled as a verb. However, when working as a gerund, borrowing is now a noun.
One way to spot a gerund is to notice that they always end in -ing. Just remember they're not the only players in the game ending in -ing. Present participles (verbs indicating continuous activity) also end in -ing. For example: “I was sitting there.” Sitting looks like and acts like a verb in this instance.
Gerunds can function as subjects, direct objects, indirect objects, objects of prepositions, and predicate nouns.
Identifying Gerunds in a Sentence
Let's take a look at some examples which will clarify these unique members of the English language. Remember, in every instance below, the gerund is working as a noun.
Gerunds as subjects:
- Reading is relaxing.
- Writing is an exchange of ideas.
Gerund phrases as subjects:
- Swimming laps is the most relaxing activity in the world.
- Filing papers can give you a paper cut.
Gerunds as direct objects:
- I love reading. (verb = love; love what? reading)
- Patrick likes photographing nature. (verb = likes; likes what? photographing)
Gerund phrases as direct objects:
- I enjoy shopping with friends. (verb = enjoy; enjoy what? shopping with friends)
- My friends anticipated our trying on new shoes. (verb = anticipated; anticipated what? trying on new shoes)
Gerunds as indirect objects:
- I never gave reading enough of a chance. (verb = gave; gave what? reading)
- Last week, I made studying my priority. (verb = made; made what? studying)
Gerund phrases as indirect objects:
- As part of her writing process, she began recording every detail. (verb = began; began what? recording every detail)
- Once Tom gave the order, he started collecting all the evidence. (verb = started; started what? collecting all the evidence)
Gerunds as objects of prepositions:
- My love for reading was immediate. (preposition = for)
- By reading, we can explore new worlds. (preposition = by)
Gerund phrases as objects of prepositions:
- Her joy in preparing for company was obvious. (preposition = in)
- Since completing his degree, his opportunities are endless. (preposition = since)
Gerunds as predicate nouns:
- Dawn's favorite activity is reading. (Reading is identifying the noun "activity.")
- Her occupation is writing. (Writing is identifying the noun "occupation.")
Gerund phrases as predicate nouns:
- His only focus was improving the lives of others. (Improving the lives of others is identifying the noun "focus.")
- Dawn's favorite pastime is swimming in the Atlantic. (Swimming in the Atlantic is identifying the noun "pastime.")
Notice that gerund phrases usually include prepositions (about, at, but, by, for, from, in, into, of, on, onto, since, to, until, upon, with).
Gerunds are Everywhere
Can you believe how often we use gerunds in our everyday language? Yet, they're the somewhat mysterious members of the family. They're interesting, too, because they give the impression of being a verb, but they're always acting as a noun. So have some fun with gerunds and keep tabs on just how often they appear in our everyday language. Spotting gerunds can be your new favorite activity!
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"Gerund Examples." YourDictionary, n.d. Web. 22 June 2018. <http://examples.yourdictionary.com/gerund-examples.html>.
Gerund Examples. (n.d.). Retrieved June 22nd, 2018, from http://examples.yourdictionary.com/gerund-examples.html
Reading is relaxing.