Have you heard of the word gerund? According to the Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus, a gerund is “a noun formed from a verb” by using the present participle of a verb (ending in -ing) . Here are some examples:
He is driving to work (driving in this sentence is a present participle)
The driving range is five miles away (driving in this case functions as a noun so we call it a gerund)
Let’s take another verb – to speak. In a sentence where it is a past participle you could say “they were speaking to me but I wasn’t listening”. To turn this into a noun or gerund, you could say “Speaking out loud gives me a chance to show off my newly learnt confidence.”
Did you notice that I even brought yesterday’s blog (learn, learnt and learned) into the above sentence?
The possessive quality of gerunds
In Graham King’s book Collins Improve your Grammar he states that “although the gerund is really the most straightforward of the three verbals its usage is for some reason probably the most misunderstood.”
The reason for this is because of the confusion with the possessive. Take a look at the following sentence and see if you can work out what is wrong:
“Matthew liked Tom sounding the horn on his new car”
Did Matthew like Tom, or did he like the fact that Tom was sounding the horn on his car? The purpose of this sentence was to tell you that Matthew liked Tom’s sounding the horn. For this reason it should read “Martin liked Tom’s sounding the horn on his new car.”
If you want to see gerunds in action, apparently Jane Austen does an excellent job in her book Pride and Prejudice, according to Graham King in his book Collins Improve your Grammar.
Hope you enjoyed today’s blog. I blog daily, so please return tomorrow to learn some more. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
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The Collins English Dictionary & Thesaurus – published by HarperCollins Publishers, UK
Graham King The Collins Improve your Grammar, UK