English Grammar

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The Gerunds

Read this sentence.
Reading is his favourite pastime.
The word reading is formed from the Verb read, by adding ing.
We also see that it is here used as the Subject of a verb, and hence does the work of a Noun. It is, therefore, a Verb-Noun, and is called a Gerund.
Further examples of Gerund :
1. Playing cards is not allowed here.
2. I like reading poetry.
3. He is fond of hoarding money.
In sentence 1, the Gerund, like a noun, is the Subject of a verb, but, like a verb, it also takes an object, thus clearly showing that it has also the force of a verb.
In sentence 2, the Gerund, like a noun, is the Object of a verb, but, like a verb, it also takes an object, thus clearly showing that it has also the force of a verb.


In sentence 3, the Gerund, like a noun, is governed by a Preposition, but, like a verb, it also takes an object.
It will be noticed that the Infinitive and the Gerund are alike in being used as Nouns, while still retaining the power that a Verb has of governing another noun or pronoun in the objective case.

Definition : A Gerund is that form of the verb which ends in -ing, and has the force of a Noun and a Verb.

As both the Gerund and the Infinitive have the force of a Noun and a Verb, they have the same uses.
Thus in many sentences either of them may be used without any special difference in meaning; as,

Teach me to swim.
Teach me swimming.
To give is better than to receive.
Giving is better than receiving.
To see to believe.
Seeing is believing.

The following sentences contain examples of Compound Gerund forms :
1. I heard of his having gained a prize.
2. They were charged with having sheltered anarchists
3. We were fatigued on account of having walked so far.
4. He is desirous of being praised.
It will be noticed that Compound Gerund forms are formed by placing a Past Participle after the Gerunds of have and be.

The Gerund of a Transitive verb has the following forms :
Active
Present : loving
Perfect : having loved

Passive
Present : being loved
Perfect : having been loved

As both the Gerund and the Present Participle end in -ing, they must be carefully distinguished.
The Gerund has the force of a Noun and a Verb; it is a Verbal Noun.
The Present Participle has the force of an Adjective and a Verb;
it is a Verbal Adjective.
Examples of Gerund :
1. He is fond of playing cricket.
2. The old man was tired of walking.
3. Seeing is believing.

Examples of Participle :


1. Playing cricket, he gained health.
2. Seeing, he believed.
3. Walking along the road, he noticed a dead cobra.

Read this sentence.
The indiscriminate reading of novels is injurious.
Here reading is used like an ordinary Noun.
Notice that the is used before and of after it.
Further examples of Gerunds used like ordinary Noun.
1. The making of the plan is in hand.
2. The time of the singing of the birds has come.
3. Adam consented to the eating of the fruit.
4. The middle station of life seems to be the most advantageously situated for the gaining of wisdom.

In such Compound nouns as :
walkingstick
fryingpan
huntingwhip
fencingstick
writingable
walking, frying, hunting, fencing, writing are Gerunds.
They mean 'a stick for walking', 'a pan for frying', 'a whip for hunting', 'a stick for fencing' and 'a table for writing'.

Compare the following two sentences :
1. I hope you will excuse my leaving early.
2. I hope you will excuse me leaving early.
In the first sentence the word preceding the gerund is in the possessive case, while in the second sentence it is in the objective case. Both the sentences are correct. We can use either the possessive case or objective case of nouns and pronouns before gerunds. The possessive is more formal, and it is less usualin everyday speech.
Here are further examples :
1. We rejoiced at his/him being promoted.
2. Do you mind my/me sitting here ?
3. I insist on your/you being present.
4. The accident was due to the engine-driver's/engine-driver disregarding the signals.
5. All depends on Karim's/Karim passing the exam.
6. I disliked the manager's/manager asking me personal questions.

Use of the Gerund
A. A Gerund being a verb-noun may be used as,
1. Seeing is believing.
2. Hunting deer is not allowed in this country.

B. Object of a transitive verb; as,
1. I like reading poetry.
2. Stop playing.
3. He contemplated marrying his cousin.
4. Children love making mud castles.

C. Object of a preposition; as,
1. I am tired of waiting.
2. I have an aversion to fishing.
3. He was punished for telling a lie.
4. He is fond of swimming.
5. We were prevented from seeing the prisoner.

D. Complement of a verb ; as,
1. Seeing is believing.
2. What I most detest is smoking.

E. Absolutely ;as,
1. Playing cards being his aversion, we did not play bridge.

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