What’s a Gerund?
The English language, as many other languages in the world, possesses the diversified classification of the parts of speech. Some of them are simple and common for the majority of the languages on the Earth, some are quite specific and more difficult to master. Gerund most certainly belongs to the latter’s.
Gerund represents a verbal form which is non-finite, or impersonal. It means that formally Gerund isn’t related to a noun or a pronoun, it doesn’t have a subject that initiates the action:
Running in the morning gives me energy and inspiration.
The process of running in this example doesn’t relate to a specific subject, it means running [process] as itself.
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Gerund addresses the question “Doing what?”. It combines the attributes of the verb as it indicates the process, and the formal those of the Noun. That differs it from the other Verbal forms, such as Participle (answers the question “What? What kind of?” and has the formal attributes of the adjective).
Proofreading is a complicated yet important part of the editing. - Gerund
Watching Alice proofreading her essay made him sleepy. - Participle
While the modern grammars such as a Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, a Cambridge Grammar do not separate Gerund and Present Participle, on the ground of their identical syntax role, the traditional grammar makes that distinction. It is based on the formal factors described above (the attribution, the semantic).
Gerund represents the action, the process however does not reveal it directly while describing it through another form (that possessing the properties similar to the Noun). It makes it look similar to the Verbal Substantive.
-Ings and –Ents: Gerund vs. Verbal substantive
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The Verbal Substantive is a Noun possessing the attributes of the Verb. It is ease to mix it up with Gerund as they have similar characteristics:
The teacher was astonished by the student’s eagerness.
He was used to typing the text with his left hand only.
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However these two grammar forms differ by several parameters. These are:
1. While Gerund transmits the notion of a process, the Verbal Substantive in most of the cases indicates a result or a stage of the process. Thus, gerund has only the singular form, while verbal Substantive can be plural:
Finding a key to this mystery has tickled his self-esteem.
The findings at the archaeological site have swirled all the scientific community.
Editing the text is an important part of the essay preparation.
Having edited the text John completed an important part of the essay preparation.
Having been edited means for the text to undergo the important part of the essay preparation.
Being edited means the text is actually undergoing this process presently.
2. Gerund as a verbal form can have a direct object in the sentence, while this option is unavailable for the verbal Substantive:
Placing the task correctly have helped her a lot. – The placement of the task has helped her greatly.
Thus we can see that besides some similarity in the morphological formation and the syntax position, Gerund has distinct features of a Verb that provide for its difference from the Verbal Substantive.
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How to make a Gerund
Now let’s see how Gerund is formed. When making a Gerund be attentive as to its position as a part of a sentence. The relevance between parts of speech and parts of sentence must be taken into account.
3. The only morphological inflexion used to form a Gerund is –ing ending. It is added to the word stem (infinitive less to):
To form – forming
To go – going
To realize – realizing
4. The negative form is constructed by adding the particle not:
Not bringing your diploma you have delayed the registration. Seems our success in math has pleased them for not meddling with the function analysis.
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5. Above we already mentioned that Gerund has an Active and Passive voice. The Passive voice can be formed similar to the Passive voice of a Verb, by adding the verb to be in the correspondent Continuous form (being, having been) and placing the verbal part into the Past Indefinite form:
Having been awarded for the contest was a matter of honour for them. Being saddled the horse was showing its impatience to start the ride.
6. Another peculiarity of the Gerund is its having (another gerund here, eh?) Indefinite and Perfect modes. They are formed likewise to those of the Verb, but it is the auxiliary verb that acquires the ending –ing while the main verb is put into the 3rd from of a Verb:
Having told the truth has relieved her greatly.
Having been prepared for this challenge they passed the exams quickly.
Thus we can see the Gerund has its own ways of the word-formation that proves its classification as a separate Part of Speech. Let us have a look now at the ways it can be used in a sentence – and in your speech.
Check our other articles on the ways of studying the grammar categories:
Where to use a Gerund
While it may seem that Gerund, with all its special morphology and semantics, is a rare and complicated part of speech, checking the everyday talks you can find out it is used a lot more often that you could imagine. Indeed, it a very common grammar category in the English speech. If you need to consult a specialist on your Gerunds Got confused as to the Gerund’s use? The unique editing samples for writing may be of assistance!
Gerund simplifies the task of expressing a verbal sense a lot, by allowing for the syntax positions of the Substantive – much simpler and more frequently used. It is also must be noted that where the Gerund can be replaced with the similar Noun, the preference goes to the Noun as the simpler Part of Speech. If you plan to revise your text not only for the Gerund’s substitutions but for global changes check our recent article “Revision Essay – Is It Worth This?”
Let us check now the syntax positions the Gerund is most frequently used:
The sportsmen have proved their fast running wasn’t a result of the narcotic substances. I don’t like munching something without any order.
We enjoyed them playing the scene. – We enjoyed them play the scene.
James approved of their victory as he was a referee then.
Changing the light was his main occupation at the stage of filming.
Joanna recited the poem aloud while secretly typing the SMS in Viber to her friend.
So, Gerund is a useful part of speech frequently applied to while talking English. It possesses the attributes of the Noun that provide for its simpler use in comparison with Participles. It expresses the process by means of the categories of the Voice and the Tense and thus shows more action as the Substantive Noun. Mastering Gerunds means you’re already got high in your English practice!
Check the ways of mastering the other grammar categories:
How do you deal with your Gerund? What other Parts of Speech are tricky for you? Let us know your concerns!