Students understanding the complexity of language

Chapter 03-06: Phrases II – Gerund Phrases


chapter 3: gerund phrases

A gerund phrase begins with a participle verb that has an -ing inflection but functions as a nominal only. Remember, a gerund phrase is NOT a main verb phrase if an auxiliary does not precede the gerund, and the headword is the gerund itself.
Since gerunds are always nominal, a gerund phrase can  occupy any noun position (nominal FUNCTION SLOT) in a clause. The most common  are subject,  direct object, and object of preposition.
Eating my lunch is the best part of my day.
SOMETHING is the best part of my day.
Direct Object
I hope that you appreciate my offering you this opportunity.
I hope that you appreciate SOMETHING.
Object of the Preposition
You might get in trouble for faking an illness to avoid work.
You might get in trouble for SOMETHING.
Gerunds appear in the noun positions of sentences, but because they are not really nouns, they cannot take noun inflections.
Eating too many green apples made her sick.
*Eatings too many green apples made her sick.
On the other hand, some gerunds have become true nouns:
Meeting with Henry made her sick.
Meetings with Henry made her sick.
You should also be able to recognize and tell the difference between a participle and a gerund:
Untold numbers of students have succeeded searching online for a way of understanding difficult material in their courses.
searching = Adverbial participle phrase, modifying HAVE SUCCEEDED
understanding = Gerund (nominal): object of the preposition OF
Remember, while they may look the same, Present Participle Phrases  always function adjectivally or adverbially, and Gerund Phrases always  function nominally.

REMEMBER: non-finite verbs play functional roles in our language (nominal, adjectival, or adverbial). In this respect, nonfinite verbs are never main verb phrases because nonfinite verbs do not have a tense marker. Always keep this in mind as you analyze in context.