All About the Gerund Phrase

Gerunds

A gerund is a verbal ending with -ing and functions as a noun. The word verbal tells us that a gerund, like the other two types of verbals, is based on a verb, thus expressing action or a state of being. Yet, since a gerund operates as a noun, it occupies some places in a sentence that a noun ordinarily would, for instance, subject, subject complement, direct object, and object of preposition.

 

A gerund as the subject:

  • Traveling might fulfill your urge for new adventures. (Traveling is the gerund here.)
  • The study abroad program might fulfill your urge for new adventures. (The gerund is removed.)

 

A gerund as the subject complement:

  • My kitten’s preferred activity is sleeping. (The gerund here is sleeping.)
  • My kitten’s favorite food is tuna. (The gerund is removed.)

 

A gerund as direct object:

  • They do not value my singing. (The gerund here is singing.)
  • They do not value my assistance. (The gerund is removed)

 

A gerund as object of preposition:

  • The police arrested him for loitering. (The gerund here is loitering.)
  • The police arrested him for criminal activity. (The gerund is removed.)

A gerund phrase is a collection of words consisting of a gerund and a modifier(s) and/or noun phrase(s) or (pro)noun(s) that operate as the indirect object(s), direct object(s), or complement(s) of the action or state represented in the gerund, for example:

 

The gerund phrase operates as the subject of the sentence.

Finding a polar bear in a snowstorm would be easier than what they’re trying to do.

Finding (gerund)

a polar bear (direct object of action expressed in gerund)

in a snowstorm (prepositional phrase as adverb)

 

The gerund phrase operates as the subject complement.

Mayor Winfield’s famous tactic has been babbling away to his constituents.

babbling away to (gerund)

his constituents (direct object of the action expressed in gerund)

 

The gerund phrase operates as the direct object of the verb appreciate.

Our hope is that you appreciate my extending this opportunity to you.

my (possessive pronoun adjective form and modifies the gerund)

extending (gerund)

you (indirect object of the action expressed in gerund)

this opportunity (direct object of the action expressed in gerund)

 

The gerund phrase operates as the object of the preposition for.

You could get in trouble for making up an excuse to avoid work.

making up (gerund)

an excuse (direct object of the action expressed in gerund)

to avoid work (the infinitive phrase as adverb)

 

The gerund phrase operates as the subject of the sentence.

Being the leader made Tim feel uncomfortable.

Being (gerund)

the leader (subject complement for Tim, via state of being expressed in gerund)

 

Gerunds and Punctuation

A gerund rarely ever needs any punctuation with it.

 

Things To Remember:

  1. A gerund is a verbal ending with -ing and is used as a noun.
  2. A gerund phrase contains a gerund plus , object(s), modifier(s), and/or complement(s).
  3. Gerunds and gerund phrases rarely require punctuation.

 

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