Double Character of Gerunds

Double Character of Gerunds :

A Gerund has four forms - two for the Active Voice and two for the Passive.

Active Voice

1. Present Tense : Loving
2. Continuous Tense : Loving
3. Perfect Tense : Having loved

Passive Voice

1. Present Tense : Being loved
2. Continuous Tense : Being loved
3. Perfect Tense : Having been loved

Then, the forms of a Gerund are the same as those of a Present Participle and both are parts of a Verb. What, then, is the difference? A Gerund is a kind of Noun. But a Participle is a kind of Adjective. So in spite of the resemblance in form, they are quite distinct in nature.

A Gerund is a Verbal Noun.
A Participle is a Verbal Adjective.

Double Character of Gerunds :

A Gerund is a double part of speech - a Noun and Verb combined. We have now therefore to describe it in each of these characters.

(i) As a kind of Noun
(ii) As part of a Verb

Since a Gerund is a kind of Noun, it must be…

(a) The Subject to some Verb (Transitive or Intransitive)
(b) The Object to some Verb (Transitive)
(c) The Complement to some Verb (Intransitive or Transitive)
(d) The Object to some Preposition
(e) In apposition to a Pronoun

Example Sentences :

(a) Sleeping is necessary to life. (Subject to a Verb)
(b) He enjoyed sleeping in the open air. (Object to a Verb)
(c) His almost constant habit was sleeping. (Complement to a Verb)
(d) He was fond of sleeping. (Object to a Preposition)
(e) It is foolish saying that. (In apposition to it)
(f) It is of use crying over spilt milk. (In apposition to it)

Example Sentences with Gerunds :

1. The rice will grow well in the coming rains.
2. We heard of his coming back today.
3. Did you hear of his having won a prize?
4. The boy having won a prize was congratulated by his friends.
5. She was fond of being admired.
6. Being admired by all, she grew rather vain.
7. The boy was ashamed of having been beaten in class by his sister.
8. I am tired of doing this work.
9. Spelling is more difficult than writing.
10. He was in the habit of boasting of his cleverness.
11. He was delighted at having found his son.
12. Having found his son, he returned home at once.

An ordinary Noun can be compounded with a Gerund so as to make a Compound Noun.

1. Bear-baiting was a barbarous sport.
2. Wife-beating is a bad habit found.
3. Dog-stoning is also avoidable.
4. Eve-teasing is a criminal offence.
5. Money-making is not only our business.

Gerund with An Object

Since a Gerund is Verb, it can take an Object after it which may be of any of the four kinds.

1. He is clever at teaching Geometry. (Direct with Transitive)

2. He is clever at teaching his sons Geometry. (Indirect with Transitive)

3. He is pleased at being taught Geometry. (Retained with Transitive)

4. He is proud of having fought a good fight. (Cognate with Intransitive)

Gerund with a Possessive Adjective or Noun in the Genitive Case

A possessive Adjective or a Noun in the Genitive Case is used before a Gerund.

1. I was pleased at his coming today. (It is not so good to say….I was pleased at him coming today.)

2. He was displeased at the barber's not coming. (It is not so good to say…He was displeased at the barber not coming.)

But the following constructions are preferable.

(i) With a passive…..

1. I insist on John being paid.
2. I insist on something being done.

(ii) When the noun denotes a lifeless thing….

1. There is a chance of the milk turning sour.
2. Here is your sister making money out of waste.

(iii) When the noun is a plural ending in s…

1. Collisions often take place without the sufferers claiming damages.

(iv) When the pronoun does not admit of a genitive form….

1. It ended with these returning home.

Gerundive Use of Participle

Such Participles are not Gerunds, but Participles used in a Gerundive sense.

1. I rely on the wall being built immediately.

If we were to substitute it for the wall we should say….I rely on its being built immediately. That is, we should use a possessive with a gerund. With a noun this is also the strictly correct form (the wall's being built) but it is rarely said. The omission of the genitive inflexion suggests a participial relationship for being built, but the sense is still that of the gerund. We may therefore call it the gerundive use of the participle.

Gerundial Participles

Usually it is quite clear whether the ING word is a gerund or a present participle. But sometimes it is difficult to say definitely to which class it belongs, since it seems to combine something of the ideas attaching to both.

For instance, RUNNING SHOES are obviously SHOES USED FOR RUNNING, so that here we have a gerund, while A LAUGHING HYENA is A HYENA THAT LAUGHS. Consequently, we can classify laughing as a present participle. But is A MOWING MACHINE - a machine that mows or a machine used for mowing?

Actually it is both. Or again, does such a sentence as….He was knocked down crossing the road… mean in crossing the road or while he was crossing the road? It seems to express both ideas at once.

We may call these ING words which fulfill a double function - that of the participle and the gerund – gerundial participles.


  1. The Participles
  2. The Different Participles
  3. Double Character of Participles
  4. Participle as Part of A Finite Verb
  5. Participle as An Adjective
  6. Present Participle
  7. Past Participle
  8. Uses of Participles
  9. Absolute
  10. Nominative Absolute
  11. Impersonal Absolute
  12. Meanings implied in Participles
  13. Examples Sentences with Participles
  14. The Gerund
  15. Four Forms of Gerund
  16. Double Character of Gerunds
  17. Gerund with An Object
  18. Gerund with The Possessive Adjective
  19. Noun in The Genitive Case
  20. Gerundial Participles
  21. Gerundive Use of Participle
  22. Participles
  23. Present Active Participle
  24. Present Participle
  25. Present Passive Participle
  26. Passive Participle
  27. Past Active Participle
  28. Past Passive Participle
  29. Parsing Models for Participles

Double Character of Gerunds :

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Double Character of Gerunds - Double Character of Gerunds
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