Gerund: Phrases & Examples

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  • 0:01 What is a Gerund?
  • 0:51 Examples of Gerunds
  • 2:53 Gerund Phrases
  • 4:18 Examples of Gerund Phrases
  • 5:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Susan Nami

Susan has taught middle school English for five years and has a master's degree in teaching.

What is a gerund? What is a gerund phrase? How do I use them in my writing? Watch this lesson to find out how to use this useful and versatile part of speech in your writing.

What Is a Gerund?

They call him an imposter. They call him a phony, a fraud and a fake! Who is he, really? He is a gerund! Why would anyone call him such names, you ask?

Well, let me explain. A gerund is a type of verbal, which is a verb that acts like or pretends to be a different part of speech. Even though they are technically words of action, these imposters, also known as gerunds, pretend to be nouns. I know; it's crazy!

Unlike a verb, which usually shows the action in a sentence, a noun is a person, a place or a thing. To make a gerund, you take a verb, add '-ing' to the end and use it as a noun in the sentence. Let's look at some examples to understand this con artist further.

Examples of Gerunds

Let's look at the verb run. First, we'll add '-ing' and make it running. This is technically a verb, right? Similar to swimming, riding, diving and faking, it shows action, so it is considered a verb.

  • 'I am running to my mom's house.'

Here, 'running' is the action in the sentence that clearly shows what I am doing, so it is a verb. In some cases, however, these verbs can act like nouns. Let's take the same word, 'running,' and move it to the front of the sentence to make it our subject:

  • 'Running is one of my favorite hobbies.'

Here, the word running, which was previously a verb, is now the subject in the sentence. Since a subject is the who or what in the sentence, it is generally a noun. It is the main thing that we are talking about in this sentence. It is the hobby that I love. Therefore, it has transformed from the action in the sentence to the noun or thing that we are discussing. 'Running' is our gerund. Let's go over some other examples. We'll start with the sentence:

  • 'I dive into the deep end of my pool.'

Here, the verb is 'dive:' dive + ing = diving.

  • 'Diving can be dangerous if not done correctly.'

Here, 'diving' has changed from the main action or verb in the sentence (what I am doing) to the thing or noun that can be dangerous. It is the subject in the sentence and is acting like a noun so, therefore, it is a gerund. Or, how about:

  • 'I swim on my swim team in the summer time.'

In this case, 'swim' is our verb: swim + ing = swimming.

  • 'I love swimming in the summer time.'

Here, 'swimming' is no longer an action, but it is the direct object or noun that is receiving the action, love. Since it is a verb that acts like a noun, it is a gerund.

Gerund Phrases

When gerunds combine with other words to form phrases, we have the gerund phrase. These phrases are an excellent way to add detail to your writing to create a more vivid image. Let's look at some examples:

  • 'Diving into the shallow end of a pool can be dangerous.'

'Diving' is still our gerund. However, now it is a gerund phrase because it is accompanied by a prepositional phrase: 'into the shallow end.' This prep phrase is adding more detail by showing where this not-so-bright person is diving; it is modifying or describing how or where he or she is diving, so the modifier plus the gerund becomes the gerund phrase.

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