Source: GERUNDS, Freelancers Union, Flickr
A gerund is the noun form of a verb that is created by adding -ing to the verb. Consider the statement “Running is my favorite form of exercise.” The verb run became a noun when I added the suffix -ing. The following are examples of how gerunds may function in a sentence:
- Subject: Running is my favorite form of exercise.
- Direct object: I really enjoy running.
- Object of a preposition: I hope to improve my health with running.
The best trick for determining whether a word is a gerund is to replace the word that ends with -ing with the word “it.”
It is my favorite form or exercise.
I really enjoy it.
I hope to improve my health with it.
Source: Frankenstein, dwwebber, Flickr
Gerunds are not always one word. Sometimes, they are part of a gerund phrase. A gerund phrase begins with a gerund and includes modifiers and objects. Gerund phrases also function as nouns in three different ways. In the next list, the entire gerund phrase is red.
- Subject: Walking up hills is also a great form of exercise.
- Direct object: I really hate walking up hills.
- Object of a preposition: You can improve your muscle tone by walking up hills.
Again, if you can substitute the word “it” for the phrase and if the sentence makes sense, the phrase is a gerund phrase. For example:
- It is also a great form of exercise.
- I really hate it.
- You can improve your muscle tone by it. (This is a little awkward but grammatically correct!)
For each sentence below, decide whether the word or phrase in bold IS or IS NOT a gerund or gerund phrase. Be careful! Just because a word ends in -ing doesn’t mean it is a gerund or gerund phrase. Remember, gerunds are the noun form of a verb. Click on the IS or IS NOT to respond.
- Winning is Millie’s biggest motivator.
Correct! “Winning” is the subject of the sentence.
- This is the most exciting game I have seen all year!
Correct! “Exciting”is an adjective in this sentence, not a noun.
- Getting to class on time is Larry’s biggest daily challenge.
Correct! “Getting to class on time” is the subject of the sentence.
- Suzi can’t study in the park without dozing off under a tree.
Correct! “Dozing off” is the object of the preposition “without, ” and “under a tree” completes the gerund phrase.
- This is most fascinating thing I have ever seen.
Correct! “Fascinating” modifies “thing.”
When to Use Gerunds
Gerunds are most useful when you want to make your writing more concise. For example, take a look at this sentence:
- When I run, I exercise in my favorite way.
With a gerund it reads as follows:
- Running is my favorite exercise.