Using Gerunds

Using Gerunds

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.

  1. Cooking is fun.

Cooking is used as the subject of this sentence. It is a gerund.

  1. They are cooking.

Cooking is used in the present progressive form. It is a verb.

  1. I like cooking

Cooking is used as the object of this sentence. It is a gerund.

  1. 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:

  1. 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.