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Gerund vs. present participle (follow-up question)

English grammar help. Grammar questions from ESL learners

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Gerund vs. present participle (follow-up question)

Postby Rustamsher » Mon Nov 25, 2013 3:07 pm

Hi, Alan:

I recently asked the following question:

Is swimming in 'swimming pool' gerund or present participle?

And you answered as follows:

In this case, the distinction is very clear!
'Swimming' here is an attributive gerund, since it denotes the purpose of the pool (not what the pool itself is doing).

I understood your explanation. However,our English teacher (whose native language is English) says that swimming in 'swimming pool' is not a gerund unless it's functioning as a noun! In 'Swimming is good exercise.', the underlined is a gerund as in 'waiting shed', 'reading room' etc. Is he right about his explanation?

Many thanks.
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Re: Gerund vs. present participle (follow-up question)

Postby Alan » Thu Nov 28, 2013 3:41 am

I'm afraid I would have to respectfully disagree with your teacher in this point...

Gerunds, in common with many nouns, can be used attributively (i.e. as modifiers). Where a preposed -ing form denotes the purpose of something (i.e. as opposed to an action that it is performing), we customarily classify it as a gerund.

Thus 'fishing rod' means 'rod for fishing', not (absurd) '?rod which is fishing' and would therefore also be termed an attributive gerund.

You may also be interested to note that there is a clear phonetic difference regarding [Ving + N] phrases corresponding to the syntactic distinction: where Ving is a gerund, it takes the phrase stress (thus 'FISHing rod', not 'fishing ROD'), whereas, when it is a participle, the stress falls on the noun (e.g. 'sitting DUCK', not 'SITTing duck').

I trust that fully answers your query!
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