Introduction to the Gerund (-ing Form)
The usage of verbs ending in '-ing' acting as a noun or Gerund is one of the unique features of the English language. The '-ing' form of the verb that operates as a noun is known as a gerund. This tutorial will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of when and how to use the gerund.
Understanding the Gerund
A gerund is a verb that ends in '-ing' and is used as a noun. Essentially, it's a verb functioning as a noun. For instance, in the sentence 'I enjoy swimming', 'swimming' is a gerund as it represents the act of swimming as an object or subject.
Forming the Gerund
The formation of the gerund is simple: you just take the base form of the verb and add '-ing' at the end. For instance, 'swim' becomes 'swimming', 'see' becomes 'seeing', 'play' becomes 'playing', and so forth.
Usage of Gerunds
1. As a Subject
Just like a noun, a gerund can serve as the subject of a sentence. For instance:
- Running is a good exercise. (Here, 'Running' is the gerund used as the subject of the sentence.)
- Reading books can be interesting. ('Reading' is the gerund used as the subject.)
2. As an Object
Gerunds can also serve as direct objects in the sentence. An example of this:
- I love singing. (Here, 'singing' is the gerund used as the object of the sentence.)
- He hates waking up early. ('Waking up' is the gerund phrase used as the object.)
3. After Prepositions
When a verb comes immediately after a preposition, it is always in the gerund form. For instance:
- I thought about joining a gym. (Here, 'joining' is the gerund that comes after the preposition 'about'.)
- He is good at dancing. ('Dancing' is the gerund that comes after the preposition 'at'.)
4. Gerunds as Complements
A gerund can serve as a complement, completing the meaning of a sentence. Examples of this:
- Her biggest passion is reading. (Here, the gerund 'reading' acts as a subject complement.)
- My goal is graduating with honors. ('Graduating with honors' is the gerund phrase acting as a subject complement.)
5. Compound gerunds:
Compound gerunds are gerund phrases which include additional words that provide context or greater detail. Examples include:
- I enjoy watching mystery movies. (Here, 'watching mystery movies' is a compound gerund.)
- We discussed hiring a new assistant. ('Hiring a new assistant', in this case, is the compound gerund.)
Common Mistakes with Gerunds
While using gerunds, sometimes, people make mistakes by using the infinitive form instead of the gerund. This often happens with verbs followed by gerunds such as enjoy, quit, discuss, etc. Therefore, it is essential to remember that after these verbs, the gerund form is used, not the infinitive.
- Correct: I enjoy swimming. (NOT I enjoy to swim.)
- Correct: She quit smoking. (NOT She quit to smoke.)
- Correct: We discussed buying a car. (NOT We discussed to buy a car.)
Understanding and using the gerund form appropriately can add versatility to your English language communication skills. Just remember the simple guidelines we have just discussed: Add '-ing' to the verb, Use gerunds after certain verbs, after prepositions, and as subjects or objects in a sentence.