A gerund is a word that ends in -ing and functions as a noun. The base word of a gerund is a verb, and therefore it 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: subject, direct object, subject complement, and object of preposition. Compare the sentences in the following example sets; the first sentence of each set uses a gerund (italicized), while the second sentence uses a standard noun.
Gerund as subject:
- Traveling might satisfy your desire for new experiences.
- The study abroad program might satisfy your desire for new experiences.
Gerund as a direct object:
- They do not appreciate my singing.
- They do not appreciate my assistance.
Gerund as a subject complement:
- My cat's favorite activity is sleeping.
- My cat's favorite food is salmon.
Gerund as the object of a preposition:
- The police arrested him for speeding.
- The police arrested him for criminal activity.
A Gerund Phrase is a group of words consisting of a gerund and a modifier, pronouns, noun, or noun phrase that functions as the direct or indirect object. In other words, a gerund and other modifying word together form a noun.
For example: Finding a needle in a haystack would be easier than what we're trying to do.
Tips to Remember:
1. A gerund is a verb ending in -ing that is used as a noun.
2. A gerund phrase consists of a gerund plus modifier(s), object(s), and/or complement(s).
3. Gerunds and gerund phrases virtually never require punctuation.