With a view to further nuancing our use of English, as well as to making it more accurate, we should master one more subtlety of this language. Therefore, today’s topic focuses on Gerunds.
They fall within the class of nonfinite verb forms (alongside infinitives and participles), a specificity of theirs being the possibility to function as nouns.
More specifically, gerund is a type of verbal noun which keeps nevertheless some verb properties, such as the ability to be modified by an adverb, as well as the ability to take a direct object.
In other words, the clause consisting of the gerund which can be modified by an adverb and which can have an object, functions similarly to a noun in the framework of the larger sentence.
Formation of Gerund
Four gerund forms have been traditionally identified, a classification which considers the grammatical categories of voice (active or passive) and aspect (continuous or perfect).
Active – Continuous – Teaching
Passive – Continuous – Being taught
Active – Perfect – Having taught
Passive – Perfect – Having been taught
a) To most verbs, it suffices to add -ing (talk → talking);
b) For the verbs ending in -e, the final -e is removed and instead of it, -ing is added (believe → believing, love →loving, write → writing);
Exceptions singeing, dyeing, ageing, rueing, cacheing, whingeing
c) For the verbs that end in -ie, the final -ie changes into -y and then -ing can be added (lie →lying, tie → tying);
d) As regards the verbs the last syllable of which consists of consonant+vowel+consonant and is stressed, the last consonant is doubled before adding -ing (begin →beginning, run →running).
Syntactically, within a larger sentence, a gerund clause may act as:
Learning should change into a habit.
Your being here makes a tremendous difference.
2. Subject Complement
Expanding your horizon is shedding light on increasingly more fields of knowledge.
3. Direct Object
a) After transitive verbs which can only take a gerund (avoid, deny, enjoy, fancy, give up, imagine, leave off, need, practice, postpone, put off, want etc.)
b) After a series of verbs which can be used both with a gerund and with an infinitive (attempt, dread, fear, forget, hate, like, love, neglect, omit, propose, remember, suggest, as well as can’t afford, can’t bear, can’t help etc.)
I just can’t stop listening to him. He has always been a miraculously refreshing source of wisdom.
Fancy coming across you here!
4. Indirect Object
People should give studying and researching the due consideration. This would benefit them at all levels.
5. Complement of a preposition
a) After various prepositional verbs (abstain from, aim at, complain of, feel like, insist on, look like, object to, persist in, speak of, succeed in, think of, look forward to, as well as accuse somebody of, prevent somebody from etc.)
b) After a series of adjectives used predicatively (angry at, amazed at, astonished at, averse from/to, aware of, busy in, capable of, conscious of, engaged in, fond of, guilty of, ignorant of, indignant at, interested in, late in, long in, near to, pleased at, proud of, rich in, right in, sure of, surprised at, wrong in etc.)
The teenagers have always persisted in going on their own way and seeking the truth.
They are amazed at their professor’s continually offering them an original vision of things and opening them a new horizon to explore.
6. Complex Object (after mind, excuse, as well as agree to/ with, approve of, insist on, object to, rely on/upon etc.)
Would you mind my opening the window?
I rely on your not breaking the rules.
7. Adverbial (always preceded by a preposition)
In times of yore, on their child’s coming into being, parents would try to overhear the Fates’ whisper.
After pondering the problem for a long time, she came to a sound conclusion and even found a solution.
8. Modifier (after nouns like air of, chance of, difficulty of, fear of, honour of, hope of, idea of, impossibility of, importance of, intention of, means of, method of, necessity of, objection to, opportunity of, possibility of, practicability of, problem of, process of, prospect of, purpose of, sense of, way of etc.)
You have the unique opportunity of developing at all levels.
I hope you have found this topic interesting and useful. Stay close, as we will learn next how to distinguish gerunds from participles, as well as how to properly choose between gerunds and infinitives, when both seem equally suitable in a context.