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Gerunds: Verbs That End in -ing

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  • 0:04 A Verbal and a Gerund
  • 0:31 As a Subject
  • 1:10 As a Direct Object
  • 2:00 As a Subject Complement
  • 2:34 As an Object of a Preposition
  • 3:12 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kara Wilson

Kara Wilson is a 6th-12th grade English and Drama teacher. She has a B.A. in Literature and an M.Ed, both of which she earned from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

What is a gerund, and how are gerunds used? In this lesson, we'll go over how to spot a gerund and the different ways they're used by identifying them through examples and discussing their four forms.

A Verbal and a Gerund

To understand what a gerund is, we first have to know what a verbal is. A verbal is a verb that acts like a different part of speech. So, a gerund is a type of verbal that ends in -ing and is used like a noun.

To spot a gerund, you want to look for verbs ending in -ing that are used in a sentence as the:

  • Subject of the sentence
  • A direct object
  • A subject complement
  • Object of a preposition

Gerund as a Subject

Let's look at a couple of examples of how a gerund is used as a subject. Here's one: 'Running may satisfy your need for speed.' In this sentence, the word 'Running' is the subject. Since it's a verb ending in -ing that is acting like a noun by being the subject, it's a gerund.

'Being in charge excites my power-hungry sister.' The phrase 'being in charge' is the subject of the sentence, and since 'being' is a verb ending in -ing that is used as part of the subject, then 'being' is a gerund. The gerund phrase, which begins with the gerund and includes modifiers and/or objects, is 'being in charge.'

Gerund as a Direct Object

In order for a gerund to be used as a direct object, it needs to represent the thing upon which the action of a verb is done or directed toward. For example, in the sentence, 'Mary always enjoys striking a pose,' 'striking' comes after the verb 'enjoys,' and it is what is enjoyed. So, 'striking' is a gerund, and the gerund phrase, 'striking a pose,' functions as a direct object in this sentence.

Here's another sentence to examine: 'The librarian does not appreciate my singing.' 'Singing' is a verb ending in -ing that is after the verb 'appreciate,' and 'singing' explains what is not appreciated. So, 'singing' is another example of a gerund used as a direct object.

Gerund as a Subject Complement

When a gerund is used as a subject complement, it follows a linking verb and it usually renames or defines the subject in some way. The sentence: 'Omar's favorite hobby is gardening.' uses the gerund 'gardening' to rename or explain the subject.

'Her worst nightmare was falling off the stage.' The use of the gerund 'falling' defines her worst nightmare, explaining what it was, and 'was' is the linking verb used before the gerund. The full gerund phrase here is 'falling off the stage.'

Gerund as an Object of a Preposition

Using a gerund as an object of a preposition means we're using a preposition, like 'before,' which is a word or group of words that shows direction, location, time, or to introduce an item. We can add on an object that's actually a gerund, such as 'leaving.' From there, we could create a sentence like 'Please have some breakfast before leaving.'

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