A gerund is a verb in its -ing (present participle) form that functions as a noun that names an activity rather than a person or thing. Any action verb can be made into a gerund.
Verbing (Present Participle)
Gerunds can appear at the beginning of a sentence when used as a subject:
Gerunds can act as an object following the verb:
Gerunds can serve as an object after a preposition:
Note: The same spelling rules that apply to the progressive tenses also apply to gerunds.
Some verbs and verb phrases are directly followed a gerund:
Some verbs can be followed by a gerund or an infinitive without causing a change in meaning:
Some verbs can be followed by a gerund or infinitive but with a change in meaning:
A present participle clause can express:
Tom lost his keys (while) walking through the park. (Tom lost his keys while he was walking through the park.)
She left the room singing happily. (She left the room as she was singing happily.)
The participle clause can come first in literary styles:
(While) walking through the park, Tom lost his keys.
Opening the envelope, I found two concert tickets. (I opened the envelope and I found two concert tickets.)
Moments later a bomb exploded, leaving three people dead and twelve others injured.
When I entered they all looked at me, making me feel uncomfortable.
Having nothing left to do, Paula went home. (Since Paula had nothing left to do, she went home.)
Knowing a little Russian, I had no difficulty making myself understood. (As I knew a little Russian, I had no difficulty making myself understood.)
Working as a sales rep, I get to travel a lot. (I travel a lot because I work as a sales rep.)
Here the subjects of the two actions can be different:
The weather being nice, we decided to go for a picnic. (As the weather was nice, we decided to go for a picnic.)
Since the simple gerund and the present participle have the same form (verb-ing), sometimes it can be difficult to decide whether an -ing form is a gerund or a present participle.
It may be worth remembering that a gerund always functions as a noun:
|Subject||Hiking can be a relaxing and rewarding activity.|
|Complement||What I really like is travelling to other countries.|
|Object of a verb||Jill suggested going for a drink.|
|Object of a preposition||He rushed out of the room without saying a word.|
|Object of a prepositional verb||Could you give up smoking?|
|Part of a compound noun||We had no drinking water left.|
The present participle has the following functions:
|Continuous aspect||I wasn't listening.
What have you been doing?
You must be joking.
I happened to be passing your house.
|Adjective||The survey revealed some worrying results.
The results of the survey were/seemed worrying.
|Participle clauses||The man driving the car was not injured.
Tom lost his keys (while) walking through the park.
Opening the envelope, I found two concert tickets.
Having nothing left to do, Paula went home.
Sometimes it is a matter of interpretation whether an -ing form is a gerund or a present participle:
Hunting lions can be dangerous.
Hunting as a present participle functions as an adjective and describes lions. The sentence means:
Lions that hunt can be dangerous.