Gerunds are sometimes called "verbal nouns". 

 A gerund is a verbal that ends in -ing and functions as a noun.

 The term verbal indicates that a gerund, like the other two kinds of verbals, is based on a verb and therefore expresses action or a state of being.

  However, since a gerund functions as a noun, it occupies some positions in a sentence that a noun ordinarily would, for example: subjectdirect objectsubject complement, and object of preposition.
   Gerunds are used after prepositions, but not usually after 'to'.

 The gerund looks identical to the present participle, which is used after the auxiliary verb 'to be', but are not the same as they do not function as main verbs.

When we use a verb in -ing form more like a verb or an adjective, it is usually apresent participle:


·Fishing is fun. (noun: Gerund)
·Anthony is fishing. (verb: Present participle)
·I have a boring teacher. (adjective: Present participle)

 Forms of the gerund 

Base form + "ing"

If a verb ends with -e, it loses the last letter before adding the -ing 





Note the structure of presentperfectpassive and negative -ing forms.


·I like shooting. (present)
·He does not like being seen in her company. (passive)
·She loves being looked at. (passive)
·He was charged with having committed arson. (perfect)
·He complained of having been tortured by the police. (perfect passive)
·Not knowing what to do, she went home. (negative)

 Gerunds as Subject, Direct Object, Object of preposition or Complement 

Gerund as subject:


·Traveling might satisfy your desire for new experiences.
·Swimming is fun.
·Smoking endangers your health.
·Flying makes me sick.

Gerund as direct object:


·They do not appreciate my singing.
·I like making people happy.
·I like swimming.
·I don't like writing.

Gerund as subject complement:


·My cat's favorite activity is sleeping.
·My favourite occupation is reading.
·Our mistake was trusting him.
·The most important thing is learning.

Gerund as object of preposition:

When we put a verb after a preposition, we normally use an -ing form, not an infinitive.

If we want to use a verb after a preposition, it must be a gerund. It is impossible to use an infinitive after a preposition.


·I will call you after arriving at the office.
·Please have a drink before leaving.
·I am looking forward to meeting you.
·Do you object to working late?
·Tara always dreams about going on holiday.

Notice that you could replace all the above gerunds with "real" nouns:


·I will call you after arriving at the office.
·I will call you after my arrival at the office.

·Please have a drink before leaving.
·Please have a drink before your departure.

·Do you object to working late?
·Do you object to this job?

"To" as a preposition

 "To" can be an infinitive marker (e.g. to workto laugh). It can also be a preposition.

  When "to" is a preposition, it is followed by either a noun or the gerund, but notnormally by the infinitive. Common expressions in which this happens are "look forward to", "object to", "used to", "prefer to", "get round to", "in addition to". 


·I look forward to his next visit. (noun)

·I look forward to hearing from you.
(NOT I look forward to hear from you.)

·I prefer the country to the city. (noun)

·I prefer swimming to walking.

·I am used to waiting for buses.
(NOT I am used to wait for buses.)

·They objected to our entering the room.

·I object to working on Sundays.

So why is "to" followed by "driving" in 1 and by "drive" in 2?

1.I am used to driving on the left.
2.I used to drive on the left.

1 is a preposition
2 is an infinitive maker

Gerund with its own object

A gerund can have its own object.



·Smoking costs a lot of money.
·Smoking cigarettes costs a lot of money.

·I don't like writing.
·I don't like writing letters.

·My favourite occupation is reading.
·My favourite occupation is reading novels.

Note that when an -ing form is used with an article (a, an, the), it cannot usually have a direct object. Instead, we can use an of-structure.


·The killing of foxes is a horrible pastime.
(NOT The killing foxes …)

·The smoking of cigarettes is injurious to health.
(NOT The smoking cigarettes …)

·The climbing of mountains is a good sport.
(NOT The climbing mountains …)

Object pronouns before gerunds

Determiners and possessives are often used with gerunds.


·They insisted on my resigning the post.
·Does my smoking annoy you?
·I don't mind your coming late.
·I hate all this useless arguing.
·There is no hope of his arriving on time.
·She was angry at John's trying to lie to her.

In an informal style, it is more common to use object pronouns (like John, me, him, you) instead of possessives (your, his, my, John's) with gerunds.


·They insisted on me resigning the post.
·She was angry at John trying to lie to her.

Object forms are also preferred when the gerund is in the passive form or when the noun denotes a lifeless thing.


·We were shocked at President Kennedy being assassinated. (NOT Kennedy's …)
·There is no danger of the roof crashing. (NOT roof's)
·There is no hope of the fog lifting for another hour. (NOT fog's)

Some verbs (e.g. seehearwatchfeel) are normally followed by object + gerunds. 


·I saw him running out of the room. (NOT I saw his running)

It as a preparatory subject

When the subject is a phrase that includes a gerund, 'it' is often used as a preparatory subject to begin the sentence. 


·It is nice talking to you. (= Talking to you is nice.)

The structure is particularly common with any/no good, any/no use, worth etc.


·It is no good your trying to deceive us. (=Your trying to deceive us is no good.)
·Is it any good my talking to him?
·It is no use trying to convince them.
·It is no fun being shot.
·Is it worth complaining about his conduct?
·It is no use waiting.
·Is it worth talking to him?

Gerunds in Passive Sense

We often use a gerund after the verbs needrequire and want. In this case, the gerund has a passive sense. 


·I have three shirts that need washing. (need to be washed)
·This letter requires signing. (needs to be signed)
·The house wants repainting. (needs to be repainted)

 Gerunds after Certain Verbs 

We sometimes use one verb after another verb. Often the second verb is in the infinitive form


·I want to eat.

But sometimes the second verb must be in gerund form/


·I dislikeeating. (NOT "I dislike to eat.")
·I have finished packing. (NOT "I have finished to pack".)
·I enjoy reading. (NOT "I enjoy to read".)
·You must give up smoking. (NOT "to smoke".)
·The doctor suggested taking a long holiday. (NOT "suggested me to take")

This depends on the first verb. Here is a list of verbs that are usually followed by a verb in gerund form: 

escapeexcusefacefancyfeel like
finishforgivegive upcan't helpimagine
practiceput offresentresistrisk

Some of the verbs listed above can be followed by object + gerund. 


·I dislike people telling me what to do.
·I can't imagine him working in an office.
·Nobody can stop him (from) doing what he wants to.

Some verbs can be followed by the gerund form or the infinitive form without a big change in meaning:


·I like to play tennis.
·I like playing tennis.

·It started to rain.
·It started raining.

Here are the verbs which can be followed by both gerunds and infinitives.

adviseallowcan't bearforbidforget
gogo onhatehearintend
likelovepermitpreferfeel like

 Gerunds after nouns and adjectives 

Some nouns and adjectives can be followed by preposition + gerunds. Nouns/adjectives that are followed by gerunds cannot normally be followed by infinitives. But there are exceptions to this rule.


·I hate the idea of getting old. (NOT … the idea to get old.)
·I am tired of listening to advice.
·She is good at painting.
·We are confident of winning the election.

After some nouns and adjectives, we can use either a gerund or an infinitive.

Normally there is little or no difference of meaning. Note that if we are using a gerund, a preposition is used to connect it to the noun/adjective.


·I am proud of having won.
·I am proud to have won.
·We have a good chance of making/ to make a profit.