Gerund

This page discusses the gerund, a common and important construction in the English language. There are several examples, together with links to other resources.

Gerund is the name given to the present participle form of a verb that is used as a noun. In the following sentences the gerund There is an ongoing debate as to whether a gerund is a noun or a verb or some kind of hybrid. Most learners are concerned more with usage than categorization, so I will not go into more details on this here. is shown in bold:

  • Smoking is bad for your health. (gerund as subject )
  • A popular hobby in England is stamp-collecting. (gerund as complement )
  • I dislike shopping. (gerund as object )
  • Reading a lot is a great way to improve your English. (gerund as subject )
  • He is good at cooking. (gerund as complement )
  • I love living in Germany. (gerund as object )

Gerunds are not difficult to use as subjects or complements, as in the above sentences. The problem arises in the case of an object and the learner does not know whether the gerund or the infinitive is required. Here are some examples of the variety of use:

  • She doesn't enjoy working on Sundays. (gerund only )
  • She objects to working on Sundays. (gerund only )
  • She agreed to work on Sunday. (infinitive only )
  • She hates to work on Sundays. / She hates working on Sundays. (both infinitive and gerund possible: same meaning )
  • She stopped eating. (gerund - meaning: she did not eat any more )
  • She stopped to eat. (infinitive - meaning: she stopped what she was doing and started to eat )

More information and resources on the gerund

This is a difficult aspect of English grammar. The learner must use the dictionary carefully case-by-case to make the correct choice of gerund or infinitive.

Note: Many modern grammarians dislike the term gerund and the caetgorisation of the gerund as a noun. One proposed alternative term is simply 'the -ing form'. For more on this read the Wikipedia article on the gerund.

Here is an article on the gerund in the section with the title Is English an easy language? (See the drop-down menu in the English Language index.)

There are several interactive quizzes on the gerund in the Verb grammar: Miscellaneous drop-down menu on the Grammar index.

Finally, here is an example of how gerunds are very useful in constructing topic sentences in essays.