Grammar Lesson: The Gerund and Gerund Phrase

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Dec 13, 2010
  • A gerund, the second type of verbal, ends in -ing and functions as a noun. A gerund's uses are many—subject, direct object, subject complement (predicate nominative), appositive, and object of the preposition. If a gerund or the entire gerund phrase is removed from the sentence, the remaining words will not form a complete, logical sentence.
  • The underlined word in each sentence is a gerund. Its use is within the parentheses that follow the sentence.

      Learning is fun for Kate and Moe. (subject)
      Marcia loves sewing. (direct object)
      A fun time for Rachel is reading. (predicate nominative)
      His passion, traveling, inspired him in many ways. (appositive)
      Geraldine has a love for traveling. (object of the preposition)
  • A gerund phrase includes the gerund, its modifiers, and the words that complete the idea begun by the gerund.
  • In each sentence, the gerund is italicized, and the gerund phrase is underlined.

      Shopping for new dresses excites Terry Anne. (subject)
      The orchestra members enjoy rehearsing for long periods of time. (direct object)
      Tommy's passion is running long distances. (predicate nominative)
      Joanna's love, running, kept her very fit. (appositive)
      Can you pass the test by studying very hard this month? (object of the preposition)

    Note: Remember that the same phrase can have several uses.

      The man signaling to you is my grandfather. (participial phrase)
      Signaling to you was not difficult. (gerund phrase)
      The player passing the soccer ball is James. (participial phrase)
      Passing the soccer ball was hard for that man. (gerund phrase)

Activity- Gerund or Not?

Ten of these underlined groups of words are gerund phrases. Place a checkmark on the line next to those ten sentences that contain gerund phrases.

  1. ____ The dog groomer was brushing Murphy's hair.
  2. ____ Making this work will be fairly easy for Kate.
  3. ____ Brushing Murphy's hair, the dog groomer seemed to be enjoying herself.
  4. ____ Latoya's sister enjoys watching sci-fi movies.
  5. ____ Thomas Edison's passion was experimenting in the lab.
  6. ____ Launching his boat this summer was a thrill for Jimmy.
  7. ____ My uncle recalled walking two miles to school with his friends each morning.
  8. ____ These artists working on the mural will finish soon.
  9. ____ Monique's arms were tired from lifting all these heavy weights at the gym.
  10. ____ Rex's favorite hobby is collecting stamps.
  11. ____ Trying to reach his friends by telephone, Willy looked forward to telling them the good news.
  12. ____ Hubie detested making loud noises.
  13. ____ James enjoys playing his guitar.
  14. ____ Illustrating books was fun for Maureen.
  15. ____ After that, the commentator was interviewing the country's new leader.


Sentences 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, and 14 contain gerund phrases.

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