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Video:Learn ESL: What Is the English Gerund?

with Alfredo Deambrosi

The English gerund is a noun formed from a verb. Watch this video from About.com to learn more about the English gerund and its uses.See Transcript

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Transcript:Learn ESL: What Is the English Gerund?

Hi, I'm Alfredo Deambrosi, director of OnTargetEnglish.com, and I'm going to explain what a gerund is for About.com.

Definition of English Gerund

Perhaps you've heard the term "gerund" and wondered what it means. Gerunds are nouns that are formed from verbs. They show that the focus of the statement is on an activity. You can create a gerund by adding the suffix -ing to a verb.

Running is great exercise.

The suffix -ing is added to the verb run to create a gerund. Running acts as a noun because it is the subject of the sentence.

English Gerunds in Parts of a Sentence

Gerunds can also be used in other parts of the sentence.

Melissa prefers shopping at the mall. Shopping is a direct object.

A gerund can also be the object of a preposition.

Darren read a book about investing last week.

About is the preposition, followed by the gerund investing.

Tips for Using the English Gerund

If you remember that a gerund comes from a verb, you can take out unnecessary words and shorten the sentence. For example:

Roxanne looked back after she crossed the street becomes Roxanne looked back after crossing the street.

Gerunds can also follow phrasal verbs such as put off or cut out.

Kyle failed the exam because he put off studying too long.

Beth lost weight when she cut out eating donuts during her morning coffee break.

When adjectives are combined with prepositions, they are also commonly followed by gerunds.

Gerald was overjoyed at learning he had won the competition.

Difference in English Gerund and Present Participles

It may be easy to confuse a gerund with a present participle. Just remember that a gerund is always used as a noun, not an adjective.

Running is fun. Running is the noun.

We watched the running athletes. Here running acts as a present participle.

Using English Gerund Phrases

A gerund phrase can include an object and modifiers. 

Amy actually enjoys filing her taxes early.

The direct object of this sentence is the gerund phrase filing her taxes early. This phrase includes the gerund filing, the object taxes, and the modifiers her and early.

So now you know that a gerund is a noun formed from a verb and the suffix -ing, and you've seen how it functions in various sentence structures.

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