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Gerund: Definition, Examples, and Gerund Phrases

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Gerund: Definition, Examples, and Gerund Phrases

The term ‘gerund’ might sound very foreign and strange, and you might think to yourself ‘what even is that’It might come as a surprise to you, but gerunds are a very common part of your daily life, and whether you realize it or not, you use them every single day.

In this article, we have discussed gerunds, gerund structure, and gerund phrases in-depth. And for your better understanding, we have added a fair share of gerund examples and ing phrases. By the end of this article, you will be able to understand gerund structure and use gerunds in your everyday writing comfortably. So, stick till the end to gain a strong recognition of gerunds:

What Is a Gerund?

A gerund is abbreviated using the word ‘ger’ and it is defined as one of the many nonfinite verb forms in different languages and oftentimes, however not exclusively, one of them acts as a noun. 

In English, a gerund carries the properties of both noun and verb, such as it is able to take a direct object and has the ability to be modified by an adverb, respectively. The term ‘ing phrases’ or ‘-ing form’ is commonly used in the English language to talk about gerunds specifically. The traditional grammar differentiates between the -ing phrases when used in gerunds and present participles. However, that difference is not followed in the modern types of grammar, including The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language and A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language.

Moreover, in English grammar the gerund is used to mean an -ing form that is found in non-finite clauses, for instance, playing on computers. This, however, is not common for a Latin gerund. Another difference is that the English clause can act in a sentence as the subject or object, but that is impossible for a Latin gerund to do.

Just like all the things in grammar, gerunds can take a bit of time and some detective skills for you to spot them in a sentence. The problem with identifying gerunds is that present participles also end in -ing. The best way to get familiarized with the way gerunds are used in a sentence is by studying examples. So, let’s get to that! 

Gerund Examples

The sentences given below illustrate the uses of gerund, and also demonstrate how a gerund clause can act as a noun when used in larger sentences: 

  • Dancing is fun. (gerund is the subject i.e., gerund subject, of the sentence)
  • I like knitting. (gerund, in this example, is used as the direct object)
  • I never gave reading all that much attention. (gerund, in this sentence, is used as an indirect object)
  • Drinking tea in front of the computer is one way to rest. (gerund phrase, here, is used as the subject)
  • Do you fancy watching movies? (gerund phrase. in this example, is used as the direct object)
  • On being elected prime minister, he shifted with his wife to the city. (gerund phrase, in the sentence, is used as a complement of the preposition)

One surprising aspect of gerunds is that if you use gerunds of the right auxiliary verbs, you can make gerund clauses that show passive voice and perfect aspect:

  • Being disobeyed can make anyone feel furious. (passive voice)
  • Having visited the website once before makes me more confident. (perfect aspect)
  • He is not proud of having been skating all day. (perfect progressive aspect)

What Is a Gerund Phrase?

A gerund phrase is basically a combination of a gerund, which is a verb, and the -ing phrase. The combination then works as an object, a noun with a modifier, or both. That sounds pretty intimidating, right? 

Let us simplify it for you. 

First of let’s look at a gerund phrase being used in a sentence:

Eating a piece of cake quickly is a recipe for indigestion.

Now, if we break it down, it will look like this: 

  • The gerund used in this sentence is ‘eating’, we have highlighted it in bold letters. (Keep in mind that the gerund is the noun that came into being after the addition of a verb and -ing)
  • The gerund phrase’s object in the sentence, the thing on which the gerund is acting, is the piece of cake. 
  • And, lastly, the modifier is the word ‘quickly’.

Sentences With Gerund Phrases

Here are some good examples for you to fully understand sentences with gerund phrases:

  • Watching television peacefully is my favorite pastime.
  • My favorite pastime is watching television peacefully.
  • I recommend watching television peacefully to pass the time.

These three sentences perfectly demonstrate the use of gerund phrases in different ways. Moving on: 

  • Consuming alcohol excessively is not good for your health.
  • Watching funny movies defined my adult life.
  • Jumping with knives on a wet floor was a stupid idea.
  • I would not recommend camping without camps.
  • His son loves washing dirty cars.
  • Do you like travelling with pets?
  • As part of her new fitness regime, Susie made eating through the day her top priority.
  • Barton gave running for class president his best shot.
  • We make reading four books a mandatory condition to pass our course.
  • The main underlying issue of his arrest wasn’t sleeping on the road.
  • My biggest issue is staying awake throughout the day. (What is my biggest issue? It is staying awake through the day).
  • Her favorite thing is dancing in the rain.
  • A good career choice for him might be counselling students
  • Exercise is useless without dieting healthily.
  • She wanted to know more about using a laptop
  • Teachers were happy after finding the assignments
  • The physician recommended doing some light exercise for resting through the night. (For what purpose? For resting through the night).

What Are Roles of Gerund Clauses in a Sentence?

Gerund clauses can have different types of roles when they are used in a sentence:

Role of Gerund ClauseExample
ASubjectDrinking juice is nice. 
BExtraposed subjectIt can be nice drinking juice.
CSubject ComplementWhat I am eagerly looking forward to is drinking juice
DDirect objectI cannot stop drinking juice.
EPrepositional objectI dreamt of drinking juice
FAdverbialShe walks the streets drinking juice
GPart of the noun phraseIt is a portrait of a woman drinking juice
HPart of the adjective phraseThey are all preoccupied with drinking juice.
IComplement of the prepositionHe takes great pleasure in drinking juice.


When used in the traditional types of grammar, the term ‘gerund’ is not used when talking about the roles demonstrated in F, G, and H.


Gerunds are not easy to understand, especially because of their uncanny resemblance with present participles. However, when you have to study English at any level or grade, be it introductory English or complex English Literature, you need to be familiar with the use of gerunds, beforehand. 

This is the reason we curated our article around students who are still getting used to the gerund and its use in English. Use the examples to understand its uses and types better. Before you even know it, you will be using gerunds in your day-to-day life as an expert!

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Austin has 10+ years of experience in teaching. He has researched on thousands of students-related topics, issues, and concerns. You will often find him writing about the common concerns of students, their nutrition, and what is beneficial for their academics and health both.