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.
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:
Gerund phrases as subjects:
Gerunds as direct objects:
Gerund phrases as direct objects:
Gerunds as indirect objects:
Gerund phrases as indirect objects:
Gerunds as objects of prepositions:
Gerund phrases as objects of prepositions:
Gerunds as predicate nouns:
Gerund phrases as predicate nouns:
Notice that gerund phrases usually include prepositions (about, at, but, by, for, from, in, into, of, on, onto, since, to, until, upon, with).
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!