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Gerunds as Subject, Object or Complement

Try to think of gerunds as verbs in noun form.

Like nouns, gerunds can be the subject, object or complement of a sentence:

  • Smoking costs a lot of money.
  • I don't like writing.
  • My favourite occupation is reading.

But, like a verb, a gerund can also have an object itself. In this case, the whole expression [gerund + object] can be the subject, object or complement of the sentence.

  • Smoking cigarettes costs a lot of money.
  • I don't like writing letters.
  • My favourite occupation is reading detective stories.

Like nouns, we can use gerunds with adjectives (including articles and other determiners):

  • pointless questioning
  • a settling of debts
  • the making of Titanic
  • his drinking of alcohol

But when we use a gerund with an article, it does not usually take a direct object:

  • a settling of debts (not a settling debts)
  • Making "Titanic" was expensive.
  • The making of "Titanic" was expensive.
Do you see the difference in these two sentences? In one, "reading" is a gerund (noun). In the other "reading" is a present participle (verb).
  • My favourite occupation is reading.
  • My favourite niece is reading.

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Gerunds after Prepositions »

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