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Gerund

Notes on what it is, how we use and form it.

OVERVIEW & PURPOSE

Although the term might sound foreign, the gerund is a common part of speech that most of us
use every day, whether we know it or not. In these notes you will take an in-depth look at
gerunds and see several examples of gerunds so youll feel comfortable using them in your
writing, and so that you will be able to recognize them when you see them.

Gerunds: The Basics

Gerunds are words that are formed with verbs but act as nouns. Theyre very easy to spot, since
every gerund is a verb with ing tacked to its tail. There are no exceptions to this rule.
Like all things grammar, gerunds do take a tiny bit of detective work to spot. The problem here is
that present participles also end with the letters ing. Besides being able to spot gerunds, you
should be able to tell the difference between a gerund and a present participle.
Lets go back to the definition of a gerund for a moment. Remember that gerunds are words that
are formed with verbs but act as nouns. Present participles do not act as nouns. Instead, they act
as modifiers or complete progressive verbs. To find gerunds in sentences, just look for a verb +
ing that is used as a noun. Its that simple.

Examples of Gerunds

As you read these examples of gerunds, notice the verbs they contain, and notice that every single
one of them ends in ing. By the end of this quick lesson, youll have no problem recognizing
gerunds when you see them.

1. Swimming in the ocean has been Sharons passion since she was five years old.
2. Lets go dancing at the club tonight.
3. Ive been dreaming of summer all winter long.
4. Holly decided that flying above the clouds was the most incredible experience shed ever
had.
5. Bill avoided doing his math assignment because the World Series was on.

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The key here is that in all these examples, you have to ask yourself what is the meaning in its
relation to the subject (What has been Sharons passion? What should we do tonight? What have I
been dreaming all winter long? What has Holly decided?)

What is really important to know about gerunds?

Gerunds can be made negative by adding "not."

Examples:

He enjoys not working.


The best thing for your health is not smoking.

Infinitives are the "to" form of the verb. The infinitive form of "learn" is "to learn." You can
also use an infinitive as the subject, the complement, or the object of a sentence.

Examples:

To learn is important. subject of sentence


The most important thing is to learn. complement of sentence
He wants to learn. object of sentence

Infinitives can be made negative by adding "not."

Examples:

I decided not to go.


The most important thing is not to give up.

Gerunds sound more natural and would be more common in everyday English. Infinitives
emphasize the possibility or potential for something and sound more philosophical. If this sounds
confusing, just remember that 90% of the time, you will use a gerund as the subject or
complement of a sentence.

Examples:

Learning is important. normal subject


To learn is important. abstract subject - less common
The most important thing is learning. normal complement
The most important thing is to learn1 . abstract complement - less common

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Nikoli pa ne gre nedoloniki predlog to v kombinacijo z glagolnikom (gerund)

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As the object of a sentence, it is more difficult to choose between a gerund or an infinitive. In
such situations, gerunds and infinitives are not normally interchangeable. Usually, the main verb
in the sentence determines whether you use a gerund or an infinitive.

Examples:

He enjoys swimming. "Enjoy" requires a gerund.


He wants to swim. "Want" requires an infinitive.

Some verbs are followed by gerunds as objects.

Examples:

She suggested going to a movie.


Mary keeps talking about her problems.

Some verbs are followed by infinitives.

Examples:

She wants to go to a movie.


Mary needs to talk about her problems.

Exercice

1. After his insulting comments, I thought Jack deserved_______________fired. (BE)

2. Max avoided_______________his cell phone when other people were in the room. (USE)

3. We arranged_______________a taxi pick us up and take us to the airport. (HAVE)

4. I resent_______________treated like a servant in my own home! (BE)

5. Frank completed_______________the new barn last week. Next, he is going to paint it red.
(BUILD)

6. Don't worry, I don't mind_______________dinner. I think I'll make fish with steamed vegetables,
and a big salad on the side! (MAKE)

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7. Crying, the mother looked into the television camera and said, "Society will no longer
tolerate_______________." (DRINK AND DRIVE)

8. Karen and Neil would like_______________that new dance club downtown. It's supposed to have
one of the largest dance floors in the world. (TRY)

9. I can't see_______________a car when you don't even have a driver's license. That doesn't make
any sense! (BUY)

10. When do you wish_______________, now or later? (BEGIN)