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.