29 Oct 2014

A gerund phrase

Gerund phrases begin with a gerund, an ing-word and may include other modifies and/or objects. A gerund phrase always functions as a noun and may act as: a subject, a subject complement, an object (direct and indirect), an object of a preposition or appositive.

A gerund phrase looks exactly as a present participle phrase, but the two phrases play different roles in a sentence. A gerund will behave as a noun whereas a present participle as an adjective.

I like reading a good book. A gerund phrase, I like what? -  reading, a noun - is a direct object of liking, and a book is an indirect object.

Reading a book, Peter forgot about the chicken in the oven. In this sentence a phrase 'reading a book' modifies Peter and therefore acts as an adjective.

Reading a good book is the best pastime in the winter. Here the same phrase functions as a noun, the subject of a sentence.

He had only one desire, leaving for home. A gerund phrase acts here as an appositive (renaming the desire).

His desire, leaving for home, was the only thing he wanted. Again a gerund phrase in appositive role.

Reading a good book in front of the fireplace, Peter has forgotten not only about the chicken in the oven, but also about the whole world. And here we have a present prepositional phrase modifying Peter, therefore, it is an adjectival phrase.

My hobby is collecting stamps. A gerund phrase acting as a noun, a subject complement.

For mountaineering and rock climbing you need to be brave. A compound gerund as an object of a preposition.

Watching a horror movie in the evening may give you a nightmare at night. The opening phrase acts as the subject of a sentence and consists of a gerund, a direct object of a gerund, and a prepositional phrase as an adverb. Technically speaking 'watching' is the bare subject here.

And the good news is that a gerund phrase does not require punctuation. In fact, most grammatical mistakes happen when we add a comma before gerund which is used as an object or what is even worse - between a gerund phrase functioning as the subject of a sentence and its main verb.

We separate only these gerund phrases which act as appositive, and the next post will explain it.


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