Gerunds: Are They Verbs? Are They Nouns?

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  • 0:00 Verbs vs. Nouns
  • 1:50 Functions of Verbs & Nouns
  • 3:05 Gerunds
  • 4:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

Take a closer look at the verbs and nouns we use in everyday language to help you understand gerunds. Watch this video lesson to learn the exact nature of gerunds and their purpose in writing.

Verbs vs. Nouns

Our language has many different types of words necessary for communication. Gerunds are one of those types, but before we can jump right into their definition and purpose, we need to review verbs and nouns.

Verbs are the words that show action words or state of being. Some examples of actions are 'jump,' 'swim,' and 'walk.' However, not all actions are physical. 'Dreaming,' 'thinking,' and 'wishing' are also verbs, as they are mental actions.

The other type of verb shows state of being. The most popular verb that falls in this category is the verb 'to be.' For example, look at this sentence: ''She is happy.'' 'Is,' which is a form of 'to be,' is the verb in this sentence since it is describing the girl's state of being. Be sure to realize that the 'to be' forms are the verbs in many sentences.

Nouns are commonly defined as people, places, or things. This basic definition is enough for our purposes, but remember that ideas, like freedom or patience, are considered things and thus are nouns.

Now that we have reviewed, see if you can identify the verbs and nouns in the following sentences:

  • ''Jeff hit the baseball over the fence.'' (verb = 'hit,' nouns = 'Jeff,' 'baseball,' 'fence')
  • ''Amy is excited for the dance.'' (verb = 'is,' nouns = 'Amy,' 'dance')
  • ''The boys ran to the street at dawn.'' (verb = 'ran,' nouns = 'boys,' 'street,' 'dawn')

Functions of Verbs & Nouns

Now that we have reviewed the definitions of verbs and nouns, we need to discuss their functions in sentences. We have already discussed how verbs show action or state of being. This is basically the function of verbs: They need to show what the nouns are doing. Verbs serve that one main function. On the other hand, nouns can serve several different functions in sentences.

For example, look at the first sentence from above: ''Jeff hit the baseball over the fence.'' One function of nouns is to represent the person or object doing the action. This is called the subject. What is the action in this sentence? 'Ran' is the verb since it is showing what the subject is doing. Who is doing the action? In this case, Jeff' is the person doing the action and so is the subject of the sentence.

What about the other nouns in that sentence? 'Baseball' and 'fence' are not the subject. They are known as objects, another function of nouns. Objects are nouns that receive the action. There are different kinds of objects, but for this lesson, we don't need to define them. You only need to understand the difference between subjects and objects in order to learn about gerunds.


So, now that we have reviewed verbs and nouns and have learned about their functions in sentences, we can finally look at gerunds. Let's start by looking at an example: ''Running is so much fun.''

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