What is Gerund and How to Use It?

What is Gerund and How to Use It?

The Gerund:
Today’s post is another one on the Non-Finite Verbs based on the topic of “Gerund” that in most cases ESL pursuers or Beginner English learners find difficult to make out. The definition along with the different usages of Gerund in the English language has been discussed in depth.

Explaining Gerund:
Another one of the three Non-Finite Verbs that remain in the same form in all the tenses, numbers and persons of their subjects is the Gerund.

Consider a very common example:

Listening to music is my favorite hobby.

Now, in the sentence cited above the word “listening” is derived from the verb listen by adding “ing” and takes object “music”. Also the word “listening” like a Noun is used as the subject of a verb. Hence, the word “listening” has the force of both a Verb and a Noun at the same time making it a Verb-Noun or Verbal – Noun and is called a Gerund.

 

Similarly in the following examples:

(i) Operating the radio is easy.

(ii) She likes reading stories.

(iii) He is good at playing the violin.

 

The forms operating, reading and playing are “Gerunds”. We would have an in-depth discussion later in this post.

Definition: The Gerund is a Verbal – Noun. In fact, it is that form of the verb which ending in “-ing” possesses both the forces of a Verb and a Noun at the same time.

 

(i) In the first sentence the Gerund, like a Noun, is the subject of a Verb. Again like a Verb, it also takes an object “the radio” clearly showing the force of a Verb.

(ii) In the second example the Gerund, like a Noun, is the object of the Verb “likes” but as a Verb, it also takes an object “stories” clearly showing the force of a Verb.

(iii) In the third sentence the Gerund, like a Noun, is governed by a preposition (object of a preposition) but as a Verb, it also takes an object “the violin” clearly showing the force of a Verb.

 

The Gerund and the Infinitive have the same forces of a Verb and a Noun. So, they have similar uses in most cases without any specific or remarkable differences in meaning. Similar properties allow either of them to be used in many sentences like:

(i) It is better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven. (Infinitive)

(ii) Reigning in Hell is better than serving in Heaven. (Gerund)

(iii) To see is to believe. (Infinitive)

(iv) Seeing is believing. (Gerund)

The Different Usage of the Gerund:
Having the forces of both a Verb and a Noun a Gerund may be used as –

The subject of a Verb –
(i) Reading newspapers is a good habit.

(ii) Bothering animals is an offense in this region.

The object of a transitive Verb –
(i) She loves cooking new dishes.

(ii) He likes reading poetry.

The object of a Preposition –
(i) He is fond of listening to music.

(ii) She was accused of stealing the gold chain.

The complement of a be Verb –
(i) Seeing is believing.

(ii) The knowledge he has gained is communicating with new people.

Absolutely –
(i) Taking in sugar being his aversion, we did not have sweets.

(ii) Playing cricket being his obsession, we gifted him a cricket bat.

Gerund with Possessives –
A. Gerund governed by a Pronoun (in possessive case):

(i) She likes his coming here.

(ii) She insisted on his coming here.

B. But when the Verb (-ing) is governed by a Pronoun in the objective case it is no longer a Gerund but a Participle:

(i) She likes my sitting here. (Gerund)

(ii) She likes me sitting here. (Participle)

C. Gerund governed by a Noun (in possessive case):

(i) She is glad at her husband’s coming here.

(ii) She is hopeful of her father’s saying this.

D. But when governed by a Noun in the objective case it is a Participle:

(i) It depends on Maya’s dealing with the situation. (Gerund)

(ii) It depends on Maya dealing with the situation. (Participle)

Compound Gerund:
Compound Gerund forms are formed by placing a Past Participle after the Gerund’s (-ing) of “have” and “be”.

For example:

(i) She is desirous of being loved.

(ii) We heard of his having won the prize.

But you must notice that even if both the Gerund and the Present participle end in “–ing” they are quite different with respect to their usage. The Gerund has the force of a Verb and a Noun (Verbal – Noun) whereas the Present Participle has the force of a Verb and Adjective (Verbal – Adjective).

A Gerund is primarily a Noun and is used as a Noun in a sentence as subject, object, and complement. It may also take an object like a Verb when formed from a transitive verb.

But a Participle is primarily an Adjective that qualifies a Noun. It may also take an object after it like a Verb when formed from a transitive verb.

For example:

(i) Her reading is good. (Gerund).

(ii) The little girl is tired of carrying the basket of flowers. (Gerund).

(iii) We saw the little girl carrying a basket of flowers. (Participle).

(iv) They found him playing cricket. (Participle).

 

Like an Ordinary Noun:
Sometimes the Gerund is used as an ordinary noun with “the” before and “of” after it.

For example:

(i) The reading of newspapers is a good habit.

(ii) The cooking of the beans impressed me.

In Compound Nouns
For example:

(i) Writing table: A table for writing. (Nominal Compound)

(ii) Fryingpan: A pan for frying. (Nominal Compound)

Here in the given examples the words “writing” and “frying” are Gerunds.

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