Gerund - What Is It? Definition, Usage and Examples

Learning English can be a lot easier if you follow the right steps. Verbs take a number of different forms and one of them is the gerund form. In this article, you will be introduced to gerunds, their definition and usage. You will also find a number of examples you can go through and practice questions that you can try out to check your understanding of the same.

Table of Contents

What is a Gerund? – Meaning and Definition

A gerund is generally formed with the addition of ‘-ing’. It can be used flexibly in a sentence. It can be used to refer to actions and also to pose them as reasons for a particular event. A gerund can be used in different parts of a sentence.

A gerund, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, is “a word ending in ‘-ing’ that is made from a verb and used like a noun.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives a much more elaborate definition. According to them, a gerund is “the English verbal noun ending in -ing that has the function of a substantive and at the same time shows the verbal features of tense, voice, and capacity to take adverbial qualifiers and to govern objects.” The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines a gerund as “a noun in the form of the present participle of a verb (that is, ending in -ing)”. According to the Collins Dictionary, a gerund is “a noun formed from a verb which refers to an action, process, or state. In English, gerunds end in ‘-ing’.

Forming a Gerund – Points to Keep in Mind

  • Any verb can be turned into a gerund. Generally, a gerund is formed with the addition of ‘-ing’ at the end of the base verb.
  • If the verb ends in ‘e’, see to it that you remove the ‘e’ and then add ‘-ing’ to the remaining part of the verb.
  • However, there are verbs which retain the ‘e’. This happens when the verb ends in ‘ee’. In this case, the ‘-ing’ is just added to the end of the verb just like other verbs.
  • For verbs ending in ‘ie’, you will have to replace the ‘ie’ with ‘y’ and then add ‘-ing’ to the remaining part of the verb.
  • For monosyllabic verbs with a consonant-vowel-consonant format, what you have to do is double the final consonant and then add ‘-ing’ to it.
  • For longer verbs that have the same format of a consonant-vowel-consonant, the final consonant has to be doubled only if the last syllable is stressed.

How to Use Gerunds in a Sentence?

A gerund can be used as a subject, a direct object or an indirect object in a sentence. In this case, it performs the role of a noun. It can also be employed as the object of a preposition. It also works as a present participle to indicate different continuous tenses. However, for a verb to act as a gerund, it has to act as a noun. Gerunds can also be used along with an object or a modifier, thereby forming gerund phrases.

Look at the following sentences to see which is a gerund and which is not.

  • Remya is combing Ann’s hair.
  • Ashish has not been working for an hour.
  • I will be meeting my cousins next week.
  • We were watching a movie when they came home.

In the above sentences, the words ‘combing’, ‘working’, ‘meeting’ and ‘watching’ are also in the form of verb + ing but they are present participles and are used to denote various tenses.

  • Exercising daily will help you stay fit and healthy.
  • Following a diet will help you reduce weight and maintain your BMI.
  • Wow! She is great at singing.

In the above sentences, the words ‘exercising’, ‘following’ and ‘singing’ are gerunds. Furthermore, The word ‘exercising’ is a subject, ‘following a diet’ is a gerund phrase which acts as a noun and ‘singing’ acts as an object.

Examples of Gerunds

Take a look at the following sentences to see how gerunds can be used in sentences.

  • Naveen loves reading books.
  • William enjoys playing football.
  • Baking is one of the hobbies I picked up during the pandemic.
  • Dieting and working out on a regular basis will help you stay physically fit and mentally refreshed.
  • When it comes to solving algebraic equations, Rahim is an expert.
  • Working hard is the only way to succeed.
  • Going through the lessons again the day before the exam will help you.
  • The best part of life is making memories.
  • Not many kids like having healthy food.
  • Going to bed early and waking up early are the initial steps to attaining a healthy living.

Check Your Understanding of Gerunds

Identify the gerund in the following sentences.

1. Deva and Sid tried opening the bottle, but they were not able to.

2. Working out is a part of my daily routine.

3. My brother does not like playing chess.

4. Smoking cigarettes in public is considered an offence.

5. Baking is my new found hobby.

6. We spent our time talking.

7. She considered solving trigonometric equations her superpower.

8. Camping in the middle of a forest is something that is on my bucket list.

9. They spent the whole day planning where to go.

10. I like dancing to old songs.

Check out if you identified the gerunds correctly.

1. Deva and Sid tried opening the bottle, but they were not able to.

2. Working out is a part of my daily routine.

3. My brother does not like playing chess.

4. Smoking cigarettes in public is considered an offence.

5. Baking is my new found hobby.

6. We spent our time talking.

7. She considered solving trigonometric equations her superpower.

8. Camping in the middle of a forest is something that is on my bucket list.

9. They spent the whole day planning where to go.

10. I like dancing to old songs.

Frequently Asked Questions on Gerunds in English Grammar

What is a gerund?

A gerund is generally formed with the addition of ‘-ing’ to the base form of a verb. It can be used flexibly in a sentence. It can be used to refer to actions and also to pose them as reasons for a particular event. In other words, a gerund can be used in different parts of a sentence and perform the functions of various parts of speech.

What is the definition of a gerund?

A gerund, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, is “a word ending in “-ing” that is made from a verb and used like a noun.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives a much more elaborate definition. According to them, a gerund is “the English verbal noun ending in -ing that has the function of a substantive and at the same time shows the verbal features of tense, voice, and capacity to take adverbial qualifiers and to govern objects.” The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines a gerund as “a noun in the form of the present participle of a verb (that is, ending in -ing)”. According to the Collins Dictionary, a gerund is “a noun formed from a verb which refers to an action, process, or state. In English, gerunds end in ‘-ing’.

Give some examples of gerunds

Here are a few examples of gerunds. Take a look at them to find out how they can be used in sentences.

  • Baking is one of the hobbies I picked up during the pandemic.
  • Dieting and working out on a regular basis will help you stay physically fit and mentally refreshed.
  • When it comes to solving algebraic equations, Rahim is an expert.
  • Going to bed early and waking up early are the initial steps to attaining a healthy living.
  • Going through the lessons again the day before the exam will help you.

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