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Identifying Gerund Phrases in English

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  • 0:04 Performing Different Role
  • 0:43 What Is a Gerund?
  • 1:38 What Are Gerund Phrases?
  • 2:14 Gerund vs Present Participle
  • 2:46 Finding Gerund Phrases
  • 3:46 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

In English, there are eight basic parts of speech. Each part is important in reading and writing, but sometimes, one part of speech will take on the role of a different part of speech. This is a lesson about verbs that act as nouns.

Performing Different Role

Who are you? Maybe you're a mom, a chef, or a salesperson. If you're a mom, you may sometimes do the job of a cook, taxi driver, doctor, or teacher. If you're a chef, you may sometimes do the job of a waiter, host, or busser. If you're a salesperson, you may sometimes do the job of a stock person or custodian. Although you claim a specific identity, there are times you perform a different role.

In English, the same thing happens to verbs. Verbs are words that show an action or a state of being. However, sometimes verbs are given a different job. The verb gets a different name depending on what job it 's doing. This is a lesson about gerunds, and the jobs they perform in a sentence.

What Is a Gerund?

When a verb ends in ''-ing'' and acts as a noun in a sentence, it is called a gerund. Remember, a noun is a word that names a person, place, thing, or idea. Nouns can have a variety of roles in a sentence. A gerund will take one of these positions in a sentence:

  • Subject: or who or what the sentence is about
    • Cooking is fun.
  • Subject complement: follows the linking verb and renames the subject (subject = complement)
    • Mouhamed's favorite game is basketball.
  • Direct object: receives the action of the verb (after the verb ask ''what or whom?'')
    • Harmon likes rowing.
  • Indirect object: receives the direct object (after the direct object ask ''to or for whom or what?'')
    • Marge gave quilting a try.
  • Object of preposition: follows the preposition to complete its meaning
    • Timmy won a medal for wrestling.

Gerund Phrases

If an action verb is transitive, it has a direct object. When you find the verb, you can ask ''what'' or ''whom.'' A gerund phrase consists of a gerund with a direct object.

  • Cooking pasta is a simple task.

The gerund is ''cooking'' and the object is ''pasta.'' Together, the phrase ''cooking pasta'' acts as the subject of the sentence.

Sometimes a gerund phrase also includes a modifier.

  • Lucas enjoys playing board games.

The gerund is ''playing'' and the object is ''games.'' The word ''board'' is modifying ''games,'' so the entire gerund phrase is ''playing board games.'' In this sentence, the gerund phrase is the direct object.

Gerund or Present Participle?

A gerund always ends in ''-ing'', but not all verbs ending in ''-ing'' are gerunds. Present participles also end in ''-ing~.

Here are some present participles:

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