The Gerund or Verbal Noun
November 2nd, 2009 in English Grammar, English Learning, ESL
Read the sentence given below.
Reading is my hobby.
Here reading is a verb ending in –ing. At the same time it is the subject of the verb is and function as a noun. Such a form of the verb ending in –ing and used as a noun is called a gerund or verbal noun.
Forms of the gerund
A gerund derived from a transitive verb has the following active and passive forms.
Writing is my passion. (Present, active)
She is confident of being honored. (Present, passive)
He was charged with having shot a policeman. (Present perfect, active)
There were rumors of her having been lost in the jungle. (Present perfect, passive)
Here the forms of the gerund given in sentences 2, 3 and 4 are called compound gerunds. They are not very often used. More examples are given below.
We heard of his having won a prize.
I will reward the boy for having solved the puzzle.
Everybody is desirous of being praised.
I don’t like being seen in her company.
We heard of the smugglers having crossed the border.
Uses of the gerund
As the subject of a verb
The gerund can be the subject of a sentence.
Gardening is my hobby.
Smoking is injurious to health.
Reading is my pastime.
As subject complement
The gerund can be the complement of verbs such as be.
My mistake was trusting him.
What she loves is painting.
As the object of a verb
The gerund can be used as the object of a verb.
I like riding.
She enjoys swimming.
As the object of a preposition
The gerund can be the object of a preposition.
She is fond of reading. (Here the gerund reading is the object of the preposition of)
He was arrested for stealing money. (Here the gerund stealing is the object of the preposition for.)
I am interested in learning to cook. (Here the gerund learning is the object of the preposition in.)
He insisted on being on the panel. (Here the gerund being is the object of the preposition on.)
In apposition to a noun
The gerund can be used in apposition to a noun.
His crime, trespassing into the compound, was considered serious.
Gerunds as simple nouns
Read the sentences given below:
Partings are always painful.
I would like a second helping.
The lightning struck the building.
His paintings have attracted rave reviews.
The words given in bold text were originally gerunds, but now they are treated as simple nouns. Note that most of these nouns take articles before them and form plurals with –s.