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  1. #1
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    Default participle or gerund?

    (I'm not a teacher.)

    A friend posted a sentence that goes like this:

    "She is puzzling."

    and meant by that, that she was doing a puzzle. (It was meant to be a pun.) She said that she meant "puzzling" in the sense of a gerund, which she said so that it would not come across as that she meant that she was confusing.

    I thought that it could not be a gerund.

    I figured that puzzling in that case would be a participle. Usually I wouldn't debate over something like this, but she teaches English.

    Can anyone confirm one way or the other what part of speech "puzzling" represents here?

  2. #2
    yuriya's Avatar
    yuriya is offline Member
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    Smile Re: participle or gerund?

    Quote Originally Posted by number4940 View Post
    (I'm not a teacher.)

    A friend posted a sentence that goes like this:

    "She is puzzling."

    and meant by that, that she was doing a puzzle. (It was meant to be a pun.) She said that she meant "puzzling" in the sense of a gerund, which she said so that it would not come across as that she meant that she was confusing.

    I thought that it could not be a gerund.

    I figured that puzzling in that case would be a participle. Usually I wouldn't debate over something like this, but she teaches English.

    Can anyone confirm one way or the other what part of speech "puzzling" represents here?
    You are right on the track. "Puzzling" is a participle in either sense in the pun above. However, I'd prefer to call it an adjective rather than a participle when it is used in the normal sense (confusing, that is).
    Anyway, FYI, from a non-native speaker's point of view this kind of problems are pretty much straight forward, and I wonder why native speakers have trouble identifying them.
    Last edited by yuriya; 28-Apr-2010 at 04:15.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: participle or gerund?

    While I knit, I am knitting.
    While I write, I am writing.
    While I do a puzzle, I am doing a puzzle, not "puzzling."

    It is a pun but it's harder for native speakers to follow because we would not refer to that activity as "puzzling."
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    Default Re: participle or gerund?

    Quote Originally Posted by yuriya View Post
    You are right on the track. "Puzzling" is a participle in either sense in the pun above. However, I'd prefer to call it an adjective rather than a participle when it is used in the normal sense (confusing, that is).
    Anyway, FYI, from a non-native speaker's point of view this kind of problems are pretty much straight forward, and I wonder why native speakers have trouble identifying them.
    Thanks. I would have simply considered it an adjective as well if it were to mean "confusing."

    As far as it being straight forward, it is, but I trusted that someone who says she is a teacher would not have made such a mistake. I even suggested to her that I thought it was a participle, and she still said it was a gerund. Imagine if she's grading tests and making mistakes like this.

    Thanks.

  5. #5
    tedtmc is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: participle or gerund?

    "She is puzzling."

    It is an adjective, definitely not a gerund.

    She is used to puzzling(gerund) us.

    not a teacher

  6. #6
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    Default Re: participle or gerund?

    Quote Originally Posted by number4940 View Post
    Thanks. I would have simply considered it an adjective as well if it were to mean "confusing."

    As far as it being straight forward, it is, but I trusted that someone who says she is a teacher would not have made such a mistake. I even suggested to her that I thought it was a participle, and she still said it was a gerund. Imagine if she's grading tests and making mistakes like this.

    Thanks.
    Some teachers/grammarians/academics call all of these "-ing" words gerunds, whether they are nouns or participles. This is possibly what she learnt at school.
    You should ask her whether she considers "puzzling" to be a noun. In majority opinion about the definition of "gerund", if it's not a noun, it's not a gerund.
    She likes puzzling. That is a gerund/noun.

    Note Wikipedia:
    "In linguistics, gerund (abbreviated ger) is a term used to refer to various non-finite verb forms in various languages:"

    As applied to
    English, it refers to the usage of a verb (in its -ing form) as a noun (for example, the verb "learning" in the sentence "Learning is an easy process for some"). This is also the term's use as applied to Latin; see Latin conjugation.

    So, the use of "gerund" is not consistent across languages. Of course, that's no excuse to get it wrong in English, but maybe she learnt her grammar when learning French. Grammar has not been a priority for English teachers in the last few decades; and that is why ESL learners probably understand some English grammar better than some English teachers. Sad but true.
    Last edited by Raymott; 28-Apr-2010 at 04:42.

  7. #7
    albertino is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: participle or gerund?

    Quote Originally Posted by number4940 View Post
    (I'm not a teacher.)

    A friend posted a sentence that goes like this:

    "She is puzzling."

    and meant by that, that she was doing a puzzle. (It was meant to be a pun.) She said that she meant "puzzling" in the sense of a gerund, which she said so that it would not come across as that she meant that she was confusing.

    I thought that it could not be a gerund.

    I figured that puzzling in that case would be a participle. Usually I wouldn't debate over something like this, but she teaches English.

    Can anyone confirm one way or the other what part of speech "puzzling" represents here?
    (not a teacher)
    In that sense, it is a present participle.

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