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Gerunds

gerund: a noun that is made by adding -ing to the end of a verb.

For example:

  • running, swimming, eating, selling, hoping

are all gerunds.

But

  • run, ran, to run, swim, swam, swum, eaten, sold, hoped

are not gerunds.

It is important to understand that gerunds function as nouns, but are derived from verbs. In a sense, they are part noun and part verb, but grammatically, they are considered nouns. For example, gerunds can be subjects or objects of a sentence, but they cannot function by themselves as verbs. For example:

  • Running is great exercise. (gerund as subject)
  • I don't like running. (gerund as object)

But they cannot be used alone as verbs:

  • Tomomi *running two miles every morning. (This sentence needs a verb, such as runs.)

Gerunds may cause a bit of confusion because they look exactly like present participles; for example, if you see the word running all by itself, there's no way you could know whether it's a gerund or a present participle. You'd need to look at the sentence to figure it out. Look at these simple examples:

  • Running is tiring. (running is a gerund.)
  • I used to love running. (running is a gerund.)
  • Running quickly, Tomomi won the race. (running is a present participle..)
  • The running students passed a sleeping rabbit. (running is a present participle..)
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