Gerunds are verbs that end in -ing but function as nouns. Many sentences can include a gerund, meaning that gerunds can function as subjects, direct objects, indirect objects, objects of prepositions, and predicate nouns. Take a look at some gerund examples in sentences, and see how easily you can identify these helpful parts of speech.
Gerund Examples, Meaning and Use in Sentences
Identifying Gerunds in a Sentence
Gerunds and gerund phrases, which are defined as phrases that begin with a gerund, can function as many different parts of a sentence. Let's take a look at some gerund sentences 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
When the gerund is performing the action in the sentence, it's functioning as the subject. For example, in the sentence "Exercising keeps you healthy," the word "exercising" is performing the action "keeps."
More examples of gerunds as subjects include:
- Reading is relaxing.
- Swimming helps me unwind.
- Writing is an exchange of ideas.
- Smoking is not permitted in the restaurant.
- Apologizing isn't enough this time.
Gerund phrases can also function as subjects, such as in the sentence "Exercising every day keeps you healthy." All the words before the verb "keeps" are part of the gerund phrase. More examples include:
- Reading romance novels is relaxing.
- Swimming with friends helps me unwind.
- Writing emails is an exchange of ideas.
- Smoking cigarettes is not permitted in the restaurant.
- Apologizing to me isn't enough this time.
Gerunds as Direct Objects
When the gerund is receiving the action in the sentence, it is working as the direct object. For example, in the sentence "John enjoys grilling," the gerund "grilling" answers the question "What does John enjoy?"
Additional examples of gerunds as direct objects include:
- My sister avoids cooking.
- The team practiced kicking.
- We don't mind paying.
- She considered quitting.
An example of a gerund phrase as a direct object would be "John enjoys grilling hamburgers." More examples include:
- I enjoy shopping with friends.
- My sister avoids cooking large dinners.
- The team practiced kicking into the goal.
- We don't mind paying for the car.
- She considered quitting her job.
Gerunds as Indirect Objects
An indirect object indicates who, whom or what the action is directed toward. For example, in the sentence "I made studying my priority," the gerund "studying" is the indirect object (it's what "making a priority" is directed toward). More gerunds as indirect objects include:
- I never gave reading enough of a chance.
- The ballerina taught us dancing.
- My mother spent her life teaching.
- She made running her routine.
- Mrs. Taylor gave painting a try.
Gerund phrases can also function as indirect objects, such as in the sentence "I made studying for the test my priority." More examples include:
- I never gave reading for fun enough of a chance.
- The ballerina taught us dancing to music.
- My mother has devoted her life to teaching children.
- She made running in the morning her routine.
- Mrs. Taylor gave painting landscapes a try.
Gerunds as Objects of Prepositions
When a gerund follows a preposition, it's an object of the preposition. For example, in the sentence "I express myself by singing," the gerund "singing" is the object of the preposition "by." Explore additional examples with gerunds bolded and prepositions underlined.
- My love for reading was immediate.
- After studying, we took a break.
- Kira always talks about running.
- We got in trouble for chatting.
- Ian has received ten job offers since graduating.
Gerund phrases as objects of prepositions:
- My love for reading novels was immediate.
- After studying for six hours, we took a break.
- Kira always talks about running a marathon.
- We got in trouble for chatting during the test.
- Ian has received ten job offers since graduating college.
Gerunds as Predicate Nouns
Predicate nouns, also known as predicate nominatives, follow a form of the verb "to be" and rename or explain the subject of the sentence. An example of a gerund act as a predicate noun would be "Lola is sleeping." Additional examples include:
- Dawn's favorite activity is drawing.
- Her occupation is writing.
- The dog's worst habit is barking.
- My least favorite sport is jogging.
- His passion was biking.
A gerund phrase as a predicate noun would be "Lola is sleeping in the tent." Other examples are:
- Dawn's favorite activity is drawing sketches of her family.
- Her occupation is writing newspaper articles.
- The dog's worst habit is barking at the door.
- My least favorite sport is jogging on the track.
- His passion was biking in the mountains.
Gerunds vs. Present Participles
It may be tempting to assume that every -ing verb is a gerund, but that's not the case. Present participles are another type of verbal also end in -ing but function as adjectives, not nouns. Examples of the differences include:
- Gerund - The girls were playing with cars.
- Participle - The playing girls shared their cars.
- Gerund - Hiking is great exercise.
- Participle - The hiking family enjoyed the exercise.
- Gerund - Boiling water is the first step to making tea.
- Participle - The boiling water whistled in the teapot.
Gerunds Are Everywhere
Can you believe how often we use gerunds in our everyday language? Have some fun with gerunds and keep tabs on just how often they appear in your everyday language. Spotting gerunds can be your new favorite activity! For more grammar practice, take a look at different parts of speech examples and see how they build the sentences you read every day. Or, use a list of adjectives, adverbs and gerunds to make your writing more descriptive.