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Syntactical Functions of the Gerund in the Sentence.


The gerund is a non-finite form of the verb with some noun features. It is formed by adding the suffix-"ing" to the stem of the verb.


The gerund has the following verbal characteristics.

1) It has voice and tense distinctions:

Active Passive

Indefinitewriting being written

Perfect having written having been written

The indefinite gerund expresses that the action denoted by the gerund is simultaneous with the action of the finite form of the verb.

He tells (told, will tell) me of his writing a report.

She is very fond of being read too.


The indefinite gerund may also refer to the future when it depends on such verbs as: to intend, to insist, to object, to suggest, to look forward to, to rely on.

I intend going there tomorrow.

We are looking forward to visiting new places.

I rely on his doing it properly.


The same occurs after noun suggesting futurity such as plan, intention, hope, prospect.

There is some hope of catching the last train.


The perfect gerund indicates that the action of the gerund precedes the action of the finite verb in the sentence.

surprised at his having done it.

I regret (regretted, will always regret) having uttered these words.


The indefinite gerund is commonly used instead of the perfect gerund after the prepositions "on (upon)","after", "before", and "without" because the meaning of the preposition itself indicates that the action of the gerund precedes that of the finite verb.

On reaching the end of the street we turned towards the river.

After walking about ten yards he met them



The indefinite gerund is generally used after the verbs of recollection, gratitude, blame, reproach, punishment: to remember, to forget, to thank, to recollect, to excuse, to forgive, to reproach, to blame, to punish.

Thank you for helping me.

Ill never forget taking this exam.

Note:but the perfect gerund may also be used after the above mentioned prepositions and the verbs.

After having answered my question he left.

Suddenly he remembered having heard the name before.


2) The gerund of transitive verbs has voice distinctions: active and passive.

The use of the perfect passive gerund is very rare.

The active gerund points out that the action is directed from the subject, whereas the passive gerund indicates that the action is directed towards the subject.

I hate interrupting people. -I hate being interrupted.

I'm not used to talking in that way. - I'm not used to being talked to in that way.


There are some verbs (to want, to need, to require, to deserve) and the adjective "worth" which are followed by an active gerund with passive meaning.

Your hair needs cutting.

She deserves punishing.

Your shoes require repairing.

The film is worth seeing.


The gerund may be modified by an adverb.

I was surprised at his speaking English so fluently.

He objected to going there immediately.


3) The gerund of a transitive verb takes a direct object.
I walked down the stairs instead of taking the elevator.

The boy has made progress in reading and speaking English.


The gerund has the following noun characteristics:

1) The gerund may be used in the functions of the subject, a direct or prepositional object, a predicative:

(subject) Reading aloud is dying out these days.

(direct object) Avoid using very long sentences.

(prepositional object) We all agree to your opening the meeting.

(predicative,) The best thing is going there at once.

2)The gerund may be preceded by a preposition.
She entered without knocking.

I'm very tired of working.

3) The gerund may be modified by a possessive pronoun or by a noun in
the possessive case.

Is there any objection to my seeing her?

I insisted on Mary's going there alone.


Syntactical Functions of the Gerund in the Sentence.

In most cases the gerund is used with some words attached to it forming a gerundial phrase. The gerundial phrase forms syntactically one member of the sentence. The gerund is used:

1) as a subject

Your being here means so much more than just pleasure.

Getting angry would not help the matters.

The subject expressed by a gerund may follow the predicate in sentences with the introductory "there" or "it".

American: There is no use ...

British: It's no use ...

It's no good...

It's useless ...

It's worth (while)...

There was no avoiding him now.

It is no use doing it.

It's worth while doing it.


2) as a predicative

Her job is looking after the children.


3) as part of a compound verbal aspect predicate: after finite verbs denoting the beginning, continuation, end, or repetition of the action expressed by the gerund such as: to begin, to start, to go on, to give up, to be keen on, to burst out.

Sh went on talking.

She continued reading.



4) as a direct object

a) to verbs used only with the gerund, such as: to avoid, to delay, to want (=to need), to require, to fancy, to put off, to mind(negative and interrogative forms), to excuse.

Avoid making mistakes.

The grass wants (needs) cutting.

We didn't mind waiting.

b) to the adjectives like, busy, worth.

She is busy doing her task.

The facts are worth mentioning.

c) to the verbs that can be used with the gerund and the infinitive, such as: to like, to prefer, to hate, to intend, to enjoy, to forget, to remember, can't bear.

He enjoyed looking at her.

I intend going (to go) to the South.

I forget doing it


5) as a prepositional object

a) to such verbs as: to think of, to object to, to apologize for, to prevent from, to insist on, to thank for, to forgive for, to devote to, to assist in.

I thought of going to see my friend.

Thank you for coming.

We insisted on calling the doctor.

I apologize for disturbing you.

b) to such adjectives and participles II as: proud of, fond of, capable of, afraid of, tired of, used to, good at.

I'm tired of thinking about it.

She is capable of taking care of herself

She is very good at singing.


6) as an attribute to such nouns as chance, idea, way, habit, method, custom, opportunity, pleasure, hope, possibility, fear, intention, right, problem, means, art.

After these nouns preposition "of" is generally used.

This is a good way of using the book.

I had a good opportunity of seeing my friends.

I didn't get a chance of speaking to him.

INdifficulty in harm in hesitation in sense in skill in

After the following nouns the prepositions "for, in, at, about, to" may be used.



capacity for

excuse for

gift for

reason for

talent for



pleasure at objection to

amazement at preparation to

surprise at

He had difficulty in speaking. Imagine his surprise at seeing me. .


7) as an adverbial modifier


a) of time (after, before, on, upon, since, at, in)

In this function the gerund may express an action prior or posterior to the action of the main verb, or an action simultaneous with that of the main verb.

She hesitated before entering the room.

On returning home he found note in his room.


b) of manner (by, without)

I did it without thinking.

You'll achieve a lot by telling the truth.


c) of attending circumstances

They danced without speaking.

I never see asters without remembering her.


d) of cause (because of, for, from, owing to, for fear of)

I couldn't speak for laughing.

He said it for fear of losing her again.


e) of concession (in spite of)

In spite of being disturbed late at night, he fell asleep again.

f) of condition (but for, in case of, without)

But for meeting her, I shouldn't have become an English teacher.

In case of being questioned he should tell the truth.

I found that besides being a pianist he was a good composer.

Date: 2016-04-22; view: 2663

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