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  1. #1
    huacheetah is offline Newbie
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    Default Are gerunds the same as present participles?

    Are the gerunds the same as present participles? Like synonyms? Or is there something that distinguishes one from the other? For example, are gerunds only used as nouns and present participles only used as part of the verb?

    For example, "biking" used as a gerund would be:
    I like biking.

    And "biking", as a present participle:
    At the moment, he's biking to his friend's house.

    So, basically, in the second example, "biking" would not be considered a gerund. Or would it?

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by huacheetah; 18-Mar-2009 at 02:50.

  2. #2
    albertino is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Are gerunds the same as present participles?

    Quote Originally Posted by huacheetah View Post
    Are the gerunds the same as present participles(Yes in form, both ending with -ing) but not in usage? Like synonyms? Or is there something that distinguishes one from the other? For example, are gerunds only used as nouns and present participles only used as part of the verb or an adjective?

    For example, "biking" used as a gerund would be:
    I like biking.

    And "biking", as a present participle:
    At the moment, he's biking to his friend's house.

    So, basically, in the second example, "biking" would not be considered a gerund. Or would it?

    Thanks in advance.
    (Not a teacher)
    A sleeping car = a car for sleeping (Gerund as a noun)
    A sleeping baby = a baby who is sleeping (Present participle used as an adjective)
    A baby is sleeping: Present participle used as part of the verb.

  3. #3
    philo2009 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Are gerunds the same as present participles?

    Quote Originally Posted by huacheetah View Post
    Are the gerunds the same as present participles? Like synonyms? Or is there something that distinguishes one from the other? For example, are gerunds only used as nouns and present participles only used as part of the verb?
    Essentially you have it: a gerund is an -ing form that serves a partially, or completely, nominal (i.e. noun-like) function. Essentially there are two types that can usefully be distinguished: a PLAIN GERUND simultaneously possesses both verbal and nominal aspects. E.g. in

    Secretly smoking cigarettes is unwise.

    , the word 'smoking' functions both like a noun in that it serves as the subject of the verb 'is' , yet also like a verb in that it both governs a direct object (cigarettes) and takes adverbial modification (secretly).

    However, in

    The shooting of the suspect caused an uproar.


    gerund 'shooting' (still serving a nominal function) is devoid of its verbal powers: no object can be inserted here (instead there is an objective genitive phrase 'of the suspect' to supply this information) and any modification of it could be achieved only by an adjective, e.g.

    The sudden shooting of the suspect caused an uproar.

    and not an adverb

    (* The suddenly shooting...)

    Such gerunds as this, most typically prefixed by the definite article, are usually termed VERBAL NOUNS.

    Participles, on the other hand, combine the essential powers of verb and adjective. Thus e.g. in

    The man eating sandwiches on the bench is Harry.

    ,participle 'sitting' both adjectivally postmodifies noun 'man' and yet also governs an object (sandwiches) and takes adverbial modification (on the bench).

    Quote Originally Posted by albertino View Post
    (Not a teacher)
    A sleeping car = a car for sleeping (Gerund as a noun)
    A sleeping baby = a baby who is sleeping (Present participle used as an adjective)
    A baby is sleeping: Present participle used as part of the verb.
    A useful point! Attributive gerunds (as in 'sleeping car') are distinguished from attributive participles (as in 'sleeping baby') only in terms of pronunciation, with phrase stress in the former (naturally) falling on the gerund, but in the latter on the noun itself.
    Last edited by philo2009; 18-Mar-2009 at 11:22.

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    Default Re: Are gerunds the same as present participles?


  5. #5
    huacheetah is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Are gerunds the same as present participles?

    Thanks everyone, that helps a lot.

  6. #6
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    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Are gerunds the same as present participles?

    In a former life, perhaps a century or two ago, I seem to remember a mean old grammar teacher stressing that the difference between the gerund and gerundive is similar in Latin and English: the gerund behaves as a noun "Skiing is great fun" while the gerundive behaves more like a verb "She cracked her head open skiing, so I've always been afraid of skiing."

    So the gerundive is fairly similar to a participle, which participates in verb formation.

    Most people these days do not recognize the distinction any more.

    Hopefully this helps.

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    Default Re: Are gerunds the same as present participles?

    This site will help anyone interested in the difference between -ing forms as gerunds, and gerundives.

    And it is interesting!

    ExCET Grammar Review: Gerunds and Gerundives

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