7.1. The Gerund is formed by adding the suffix –ing to the stem of a verb, and coincides in form with Participle I.
7.2. The Gerund has nominal and verbal characteristics. Its nominal properties are as follows:
a) The Gerund can perform the functions of a subject, object and predicative.
Digging is hard work.
b) The Gerund can be preceded by a preposition.
What’s wrong with borrowing a little money?
c) Like a noun the Gerund can be modified by a noun in the possessive case or a possessive pronoun.
It’s a bit inconvenient your coming in late.
The verbal characteristics of the Gerund are as follows:
a) The Gerund can take a direct object.
No one likes washing a car.
b) The Gerund can be modified by an adverb.
She burst out crying bitterly.
c) The Gerund has analytical forms expressing tense and voice distinctions.
He’s regretting now having come.
8. Forms of the Gerund
In modern English, the gerund has the following forms.
having been played
8.1. The Indefinite Gerund denotes an action simultaneous with that expressed by the finite verb; it can refer to the past, present or future.
It was nice meeting you.
The Perfect gerund denotes an action prior to that of the finite verb.
They deny having spoken with him.
However, the Indefinite gerund can also denote a prior action:
a) after the verbs remember, forget, excuse, forgive, thank.
Sarah remembered visiting the place before.
b) after the prepositions after, on/upon, without.
On turning the corner, I saw a most unexpected sight. (=As soon as I had turned…)
8.2. The Active Gerund is used when the subject of the action is at the same time the doer of the action expressed by the gerund.
They left without playing the match.
The Passive Gerund is used when the subject is not the doer of the action but a person or a thing the action is directed at.
I’m annoyed at having been made a fool of.
The Active Gerund is used after need, want, require, deserve and the adjective worth with a passive meaning.
These windows need painting. (=need to be painted)
9. Functions of the Gerund
In a sentence, the gerund is used in different syntactic functions:
I think walking in the country is a lovely way to spend a day.
What I suffer from is not being able to sleep.
Part of a compound modal or aspect predicate
I can’t help feeling depressed sometimes.
I enjoy travelling.
The gerund is used after certain verbs, such as:
admit detest justify resist resent
advise dislike mention risk
allow endure mind save
anticipate enjoy miss suggest
appreciate escape permit tolerate
avoid excuse practise deny
confess face put off imagine
delay forget recommend involve
The Gerund as a direct object is also used after the adjective worth.
The book is evidently worth reading.
In this function the gerund is used after such verbs as:
admit to depend on
(dis)agree with insist on
aim at object to
apologize for pay for
(dis)approve of put up with
believe in rely on
benefit from resort to
care for succeed in
confess to think of
count on vote for
Jake is thinking of selling his motor-bike.
The gerund can also follow a verb+object+preposition.
The article accuses the government of concealing important information.
We find the gerund after such verbs as:
accuse of deter from prevent from stop from
blame for discourage from punish for thank for
charge with excuse for/from remind of use for
congratulate on forgive for tell about warn about
The gerund is used as a prepositional object after certain adjectives, such as:
afraid of capable of grateful for sorry for
amazed at content with guilty of surprised at
angry about/at dependent on happy about/with used to
annoyed about/at different from/to interested in worried about
anxious about excited about/at keen on wrong with
ashamed of famous for nervous of satisfied with
aware of fed up with pleased about/with
bad at fond of ready for
bored with good at responsible for
My husband isn’t very good at cooking.
Part of a Complex Object
The Gerund can be part of a complex object when used as the verbal element of a predicative construction (see 10).
I hate people asking me personal questions.
In this function the Gerund is always preceded by a preposition.
I noticed Jeff’s success in getting the price down.
Some other nouns can also take a preposition+gerund:
aim of/in excitement about/at possibility of
amazement at fear of problem of/in
anger about/at gratitude for prospect of
anxiety about idea of reason for
apology for job of surprise at
belief in objection to task of
danger of/in pleasure of/ in work of
effect of point of/ in worry about
a) adverbial modifier of time
In this function, the gerund is used with the prepositions after, before, on/upon, in, at.
Please, switch off the lights before leaving.
b) adverbial modifier of manner with the prepositions by, in.
She succeeded in business by being completely single-minded.
c) adverbial modifier of attendant circumstances with the preposition without.
The man left the building without being seen.
d) adverbial modifier of purpose with the preposition for.
These pages may be used for making notes on.
e) adverbial modifier of condition with the preposition without.
The boys could not leave the house without asking for permission.
f) adverbial modifier of cause with the prepositions for, for fear of, owing to.
I feel ever so much better for having taken a holiday.
g) adverbial modifier of concession with the prepositions in spite of, despite.
I still feel tired in spite of having slept eight hours.
10. Gerundial Predicative Constructions
10.1. The Gerund can form predicative constructions, i.e. constructions in which the gerund is in predicate relation to the nominal element expressed by a noun or a pronoun. The noun/pronoun is the “subject” or “object” of the gerund, different from that of the finite verb.
Compare: I remember mentioning the fact. (= I remember that I mentioned the fact)
I remember your mentioning the fact. (= I remember that you mentioned it)
10.2. The nominal element of the Construction can be expressed in different ways.
a) If it denotes a living being it may be expressed by a noun in the Common case, a noun in the Genetive case, a possessive pronoun, or a personal pronoun in the Objective case.
Do you mind me/my sitting here?
The possessive is more formal and less usual in everyday speech. But the possessive is more likely to be used at the beginning of a sentence.
Richard’s coming back is wonderful news.
When the nominal element consists of two nouns or a noun modified by an attribute in post position, only the Common case is used.
I’m looking forward to Mary and Emely staying with us.
b) If the nominal element denotes a lifeless object, it is expressed by a noun in the Common case or a possessive pronoun.
I said something of my watch being slow.
The nominal element can be expressed by a pronoun that has no case distinctions.
I insist on both of you coming together.
10.3. Predicative constructions with the gerund are used in a sentence in different syntactic functions.
It’s no use his/him apologizing – I’ll never forgive him.
I’m all for his representing our firm at the conference.
Direct Complex Object
Do you mind my smoking?
Prepositional Complex Object
Sam was pleased about his son winning a prize.
I hate the idea of strangers looking after my baby.
Despite your remembering me, I forgot.
11. The Gerund and the Verbal Noun
Like the Gerund, the verbal noun has the suffix –ing.
The main points of difference between them are as follows.
a) The gerund is a verbal, thus The verbal noun may be used
it is not used with an article. with an article or a demonstrative
Driving makes her tired. pronoun.
(= driving in general) Nancy likes her job, but the driving makes her tired.
This arguing gets on my nerves.
b) The gerund has no plural The verbal noun may be used in
form. the plural.
Building is a skilled job. The hostages suffered several
The square was surrounded by
c) The gerund can take a direct The verbal noun cannot take a
object. direct object; it can be modified
Crossing the road here is by an of-phrase.
dangerous. I was disturbed by the ringing of
d) The gerund may be modified The verbal noun may be modified
by an adverb. by an adjective.
I look forward to seeing you soon. My boss was fined for dangerous driving.
12. The Infinitive and the Gerund
The Infinitive and the Gerund mostly have similar functions in the sentence, as shown in the table below, but the patterns of their uses do not always coincide.
In pre-position, the gerund is much more usual than the infinitive.
Choosing the colour won’t be easy.
The infinitive is more usual in sentences with the introductory it.
It won’t be easy to choose the right colour.
Only the gerund is used after there is no.
There was no guessing his intentions.
In this function, the infinitive is more common than the gerund and is used mostly after the link verb to be, while the gerund may be used after other link verbs, such as mean.
The important part is helping people live normal lives.
Only the gerund is used after the prepositions like, for, against.
I didn’t feel like explaining anything.
Part of a predicative
This function is performed only by the Infinitive.
The apples were good to eat.
Part of a Compound Verbal Predicate
The use of the infinitive and the gerund is lexically dependent in this function – they are used after quite definite verbs.
As part of a compound verbal modal predicate only the infinitive is used:
a) after the verbs seem, appear, turn out, prove (see 6.2.)
The letter seems to have been mislaid.
b) after the modal verbs can, must, may, should, ought, dare, will, shall.
They must be having a party next door.
After need an infinitive is usually used.
We need to leave at eight.
A gerund after need has a passive meaning.
The typewriter needs cleaning.
The verb to intend is followed by an infinitive or a gerund with no difference in meaning.
We intend to take/taking an immediate action.
To be going to is followed only by the infinitive.
Can’t help may be followed by a gerund or but + a bare infinitive.
John couldn’t help but laugh/ help laughing.
Can’t stand is followed by a gerund.
I can’t stand sitting around doing nothing.
A part of a compound aspect predicate
Begin, start, continue, cease can be followed by an infinitive or a gerund; there is no important difference.
She began playing/ to play the guitar when she was six.
After continuous forms, an infinitive is preferred.
I’m beginning to learn karate.
An infinitive is also preferred with stative verbs like understand, know, realize.
I slowly began to understand how she left.
After the verbs keep, burst out, give up, quit, finish only a gerund can be used.
She’s given up smoking.
Stop is followed by a gerund if it is a compound aspect predicate. An infinitive after stop is an adverbial modifier of purpose.
I stopped running.
I stopped to rest. (= in order to rest)
Go on + Gerund means “continue”.
She went on talking about her illness until we all fell asleep.
Go on + Infinitive refers to a change of activity.
She stopped talking about her illness and went on to tell us about her divorce.
Some verbs can be followed by either an infinitive or a gerund with no change in meaning, e.g. bother, propose.
Advise, allow, encourage, permit, forbid, recommend, require when followed by an object or in passive forms take an infinitive.
In active forms,if there is no object,these verbs take a gerund.
I wouldn’t advise taking the car – there’s nowhere to park.
I wouldn’t advise you to take the car.
Some verbs are followed by either an infinitive or a gerund with a change in meaning.
1) remember/forget + gerund refers to the past – to things one did.
I still remember buying my first bicycle.
remember/forget + infinitive refers forward in time to thing that one still has or still had to do at the moment.
You must remember to fetch Mr. Lewis from the station.
2) regret+gerund refers back to the past – to something one is sorry one did.
I regret leaving school at 14 – it was a big mistake.
regret + infinitive is used mostly in announcements of bad news.
We regret to say that we are unable to help you.
3) try + gerund is used to talk about making an experiment – doing something to see what will happen .
I tried writing her letters, sending her flowers, but she still wouldn’t speak to me.
Try + infinitive/gerund is used to talk about making an effort to do something difficult.
I tried to change/changing the wheel, but my hands were too cold.
4) mean in the sense of “involve, have as a result” is followed by a gerund.
If you want to pass the exam it’ll mean studying hard.
Mean in the sense of “intend” is followed by an infinitive.
I don’t think she means to get married.
5) learn, teach (and other verbs with similar meanings) are followed by a gerund when we refer to lessons or subjects of study.
She goes to college to learn typing.
An infinitive is used when we talk about the result of the study-about successfully learning a skill.
I taught myself to type.
6) like, love, hate, prefer + infinitive/gerund with little difference in meaning.
In BrE, like+gerund is used mostly to talk about enjoyment, and like+infinitive mostly to talk about choices and habits. In AmE, like+infinitive is common in both senses.
I like climbing mountains (more typical in BrE).
I like to climb mountains (more typical in AmE).
When I’m pouring tea I like to put the milk in first. (BrE/AmE)
After would like/love/hate/prefer infinitives are most often used.
I’d like to tell you something.
Compare: Do you like dancing? (Do you enjoy it?)
Would you like to dance (Do you want to do it now?)
Hate + infinitive means “to hate what one is about to do “.
I hate to interrupt, but I must talk to you.
Hate + gerund means “feel sorry for what one is doing”.
I hate making you feel uncomfortable.
7) want + infinitive means “wish”; want + gerund means “need”.
Jack wants to borrow your typewriter, but it wants cleaning.
This function is performed only by the gerund after certain verbs and adjectives (See 9).
a) After some verbs and adjectives we can use either a preposition+gerund or an infinitive, with no difference in meaning.
I’m proud of having won / to have won.
The people voted for joining/to join the European Community.
Some of these verbs and adjectives are:
aim at doing / to do ready for
amazed at satisfied with
angry at thankful for
annoyed at surprised at
content with vote for
grateful for plan on
pay for long for
b) But sometimes the infinitive has a different meaning from the preposition + gerund.
1) Agree with + gerund means to think that something is right, agree + infinitive means to make a decision.
We all agreed to meet the next day.
I don’t agree with cutting down trees.
2) We use tell about and remind of to report statements and thoughts.
I told you about losing my credit card, didn’t I?
But tell/remind smb to do smth reports an order/reminder.
I told you to keep that card safe.
Why didn’t you remind me to bring a compass?
3) Keen on/interested in usually means a general interest, but keen / interested + infinitive means a wish to do a particular thing.
Simon is keen on/interested in cycling.
Simon is keen to go on this trip.
Simon is interested to hear about your cycle tour.
4) afraid + infinitive can only express unwillingness caused by fear. Afraid of + gerund can express fear about what might happen.
Many old people are afraid to cross the road in case they have an accident.
Many old people are afraid of having an accident when they cross the road.
5) anxious+infifnitive means “wanting to do”; anxious about + gerund means “worried about”.
I’m anxious to get this business settled quickly.
Rodney was anxious about making a mistake.
6) ashamed of + gerund expresses shame about smth.; ashamed + infinitive expresses unwillingness caused by shame.
I feel rather ashamed of having told Lucy a lie.
Roy is ashamed to admit his fault.
7) sorry about/for + gerund or sorry to have done expresses an apology for an earlier action. Sorry to do expresses an apology for a present action.
I’m sorry for causing / to have caused all that trouble yesterday.
Sorry to disturb you, but can I have a word?
Sorry to do also expresses regret about what we say or hear.
I’ sorry to have to say this, but your work is far from satisfactory.
8) Certain/sure of is used to refer to the feeling of the person one is talking about.
You seem very sure of passing the exam.
Certain/sure +infinitive refers to the speaker’s/writer’s own feelings.
The repairs are sure to cost more than you think.
c) To can be a particle or a preposition.
I hope to see you soon. (to-infinitive)
I look forward to seeing you soon. (prep. +gerund)
We use a gerund, but not an infinitive, with the verbs admit to, confess to, face up to, look forward to, object to, resort to, take to,; the adjectives opposed to, resined to, etc.; the preposition in addition to.
Used to + infinitive expresses a past habit or state.
I used to come here when I was a child. (at one period I came here regularly but then I stopped).
I used to have a bicycle, but I sold it.
Be used to + gerund means “accustomed to”.
We are used to living in the country now.
The infinitive is used to modify indefinite and negative pronouns, ordinal numerals, class nouns, the adjectives last and next. The infinitive expresses necessity or possibility.
In this function, the infinitive is also used after abstract nouns:
ability demand plan
agreement desire preparation
ambition determination promise
anxiety eagerness proposal
arrangement effort refusal
choice failure reluctance
decision need request
offer scheme willingness
There will be an opportunity to inspect the plans.
Our decision to oppose his scheme was the right one.
But some abstract nouns are modified by a preposition + gerund, not an infinitive. (see 9)
There’s no hope of getting there in time.
I hate the idea of getting old.
After some nouns we can use either a gerund or an infinitive with no or little difference in meaning: chance, opportunity, way, attempt, intention.
We have a chance of making/to make a profit.
After indefinite pronouns for+gerund can be used to explain the purpose of an object or material.
I need something for killing flies.
This pattern is used mostly to talk in general about types of objects and material. The infinitive is normally used after the noun or pronoun to talk about an individual’s purpose in using a particular object.
I must find something to kill that fly.
In this function the gerund is always preceded by a preposition.
a) Both the infinitive and the gerund can be used as an adverbial modifier of purpose, but the gerund implies a general purpose, a general use of something; we use an infinitive to talk about a specific need or action.
I need glasses for reading. (in general)
I need my glasses to read this small print.
After use there can be either an infinitive or for + gerund.
We use a ruler for measuring / to measure things.
b) Both the infinitive and without + gerund are used as an adverbial modifier of attendant circumstances.
The use of the infinitive in this function is rather formal. It also implies a result.
Laura came home to find her house on fire.(=…came and found)
c) The other types of adverbial modifiers expressed by the Gerund and the Infinitive do not overlap.
Only the infinitive is used in this function.
I’m tired of sightseeing, to tell the truth.