Written by Lilian Ndongmo. ESL Teacher
What is a gerund?
Simply put, a gerund is a word that looks like a verb with an –ing but which is used as a noun.
With gerunds, what you see is not what you get. You see a verb with an –ing such as playing, dancing, singing, running. What you get is a noun. The four sentences below explain this.
- Cooking is fun.
Cooking is used as the subject of this sentence. It is a gerund.
- They are cooking.
Cooking is used in the present progressive form. It is a verb.
- I like cooking
Cooking is used as the object of this sentence. It is a gerund.
- This apple juice is a refreshing drink.
Refreshing is used in the present participle form as an adjective. It is not a gerund.
How are gerunds used?
As shown in examples 1 and 3 above, gerunds, even though they look like verbs, are actually nouns in their usage. Because a gerund is a noun, it can be used as a subject or as an object in a sentence.
To master using gerunds, it is important to keep in mind the basic structure of a sentence: Subject (S) + Verb (V) + Object (O). Gerunds can be used in the following two ways:
- As the object of a preposition
This means that the gerund will be the object of the sentence, and it appears after a preposition. Therefore, remember this structure:
Subject + verb + preposition + gerund (the object) + complement (or the rest of the sentence)
Example: Jason succeeds in playing basketball.
2. As the subject of a sentence
All you have to do is start the sentence with a gerund (like in example 1 above). Remember to include a verb and an object in your sentence. Follow this structure: gerund (the subject) + verb + object
Examples: 1. Singing in the shower is my brother’s favourite thing.
2. Shopping is one thing I don’t enjoy very much.
3. Swimming on a hot summer day can be very refreshing.
More on gerunds in subsequent posts.
Have fun learning.