Gerund Phrases

Introduction to Gerund Phrases

A gerund phrase always starts with a gerund, which is a verb ending in "ing". However, a gerund phrase isn't actually a verb. Instead, it serves as a noun in the sentence. In gerund phrases, the “ing” verb functions as a subject, direct object, or a subject complement. This tutorial will provide an in-depth look at the use, identification, and unique characteristics of gerund phrases within sentences.

Identification of Gerund Phrases

A gerund phrase will begin with a verb in the ing-form. It will include other modifiers and/or objects. These will all relate to or describe the action of the verb. Gerund phrases can act as subjects, direct objects, indirect objects, and objects of prepositions. Here is an example to illustrate:

Example: Reading a novel is usually relaxing.

In this sentence, the gerund, reading, along with its object, a novel, forms the gerund phrase Reading a novel, which works as the subject of the sentence.

Forming Gerund Phrases

Gerunds and gerund phrases are easy to confuse with other grammatical terms such as verbal phrases, participles, and infinitives. To clear this confusion, here's how you form a Gerund Phrase:

A gerund phrase will always begin with a gerund. There can be other words along, these are simply objects and modifiers related to the action of the gerund. In the example shared before, forming a gerund phrase involved the gerund "Reading" and its object "a novel".

Function of Gerund Phrases

Gerund phrases, being used as a noun in sentences, can function in a number of ways:

Gerund Phrase as Subject

The function of a gerund phrase is that they can serve as a subject in a sentence. Here is an example:

Example: Watching movies is a good way to relax.

In the sentence above, the gerund phrase Watching movies functions as the subject.

Gerund Phrase as Direct Object

Another function of a gerund phrase is that it can act as a direct object of the sentence as illustrated in this example:

Example: She enjoys swimming in the sea.

In this sentence, swimming in the sea is the gerund phrase and it's used as the direct object of the verb 'enjoys'.

Gerund Phrase as Object of Preposition

Gerund phrases can also act as objects of prepositions as demonstrated in the following example:

Example: She talked about going on vacation.

Here, the gerund phrase going on vacation is functioning as the object of the preposition 'about'.

Usage Rules for Gerund Phrases

There are a few important rules to remember when using gerunds and gerund phrases:

  • A gerund is commonly used in the “ing” form of the verb that acts as a noun in a sentence.
  • A gerund phrase will always consist of a gerund working with other modifiers and objects.
  • Gerund phrases can act as subjects, direct objects, and objects of prepositions.
  • Gerund phrases, like other phrases, do not contain a subject doing an action. If they do, they are regarded as clauses instead.
  • Importance of Gerund Phrases

    Gerund phrases can add more detail to a sentence, enabling you to present an idea or information in a more concise manner. They also enable you to start sentences in different ways, thereby making your text more engaging. Also, they allow you to combine sentences, reducing unnecessary repetition and helping the flow of your text.


    To sum up, gerunds and gerund phrases are a unique part of English grammar that give you more flexibility when constructing sentences. Expanding your understanding of gerund phrases can help improve your communication skills, making your conversations and writings more complex, specific, and engaging. Keep practicing and ensure you apply these rules while forming gerund phrases.

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