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  1. #1
    sitifan is offline Member
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    take to Ving, (gerund or present participle?)

    —usually used with a following present participle
    take to drinking/smoking
    He's recently taken to staying up late on weekends.
    A few of her classmates took to calling her Pipi, after Pippi Longstocking …— Calvin Tomkins
    Recently, he'd taken to wearing tuxedos and suits and had gotten a new car, she said.— Laura Italiano and Tamar Lapin
    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/take%20to

    I think that the Ving following "take to" is a gerund, not a present participle. Am I right?
    I need native speakers' help.

  2. #2
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    Re: take to Ving, (gerund or present participle?)

    The term 'present participle' means it's in the -ing form.

    In class, I call it a gerund or an '-ing form'.

  3. #3
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    Re: take to Ving, (gerund or present participle?)

    Quote Originally Posted by sitifan View Post
    —usually used with a following present participle
    take to drinking/smoking
    He's recently taken to staying up late on weekends.
    A few of her classmates took to calling her Pipi, after Pippi Longstocking …— Calvin Tomkins
    Recently, he'd taken to wearing tuxedos and suits and had gotten a new car, she said.— Laura Italiano and Tamar Lapin
    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/take%20to

    I think that the Ving following "take to" is a gerund, not a present participle. Am I right?
    Since the -ing phrase can be replaced by it in each case, it is clear that the -ing phrase is functioning as a substantive in each example. That is, the -ing phrase is functioning in each example as the object or complement of the preposition to.

    However, an -ing phrase's functioning as a substantive does not by itself guarantee that the -ing word is a gerund. A gerund phrase is a noun phrase, not a verb phrase. Noun phrases can be modified by adjectives, not adverbs, and they don't have direct objects.

    In took to calling her Pipi, her is the direct object of calling and Pipi an object complement. Therefore, calling her Pipi is a verb phrase, not a noun phrase. That means that it is not a gerund. It is a verb phrase, headed by the present participle calling, and is functioning as a substantive.

    In take to drinking/smoking, we need more to decide between the two analyses. If the -ing word is a gerund, then if we speak of something's being drunk or smoked, it will be introduced within an of-phrase: He took to the (slow) smoking of cigars. By contrast, smoking here is a present participle:

    He took to (slowly) smoking cigars.

    Consider the ungrammaticality of *He took to slow smoking cigars and *He took to the slowly smoking of cigars.

  4. #4
    PaulMatthews is offline Member
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    Re: take to Ving, (gerund or present participle?)

    Quote Originally Posted by sitifan View Post
    —usually used with a following present participle
    take to drinking/smoking
    He's recently taken to staying up late on weekends.
    A few of her classmates took to calling her Pipi, after Pippi Longstocking …— Calvin Tomkins
    Recently, he'd taken to wearing tuxedos and suits and had gotten a new car, she said.— Laura Italiano and Tamar Lapin
    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/take%20to

    I think that the Ving following "take to" is a gerund, not a present participle. Am I right?
    Yes: traditional grammar calls the ing forms in your examples gerunds, since the clauses they head are functioning as complement to a preposition (“to”), a function typically filled by a noun phrase.

    Consider this pair:

    [1] I see he has recently taken to [smoking cigars again].
    [2] I see he is [smoking cigars again].

    In [1] traditional grammar calls “smoking” a gerund, and in [2] a present participle.

    But as Piscean touched on, modern grammar asserts that there is no justification for making any inflectional distinction between the verbs in [1] and [2]: they both belong to a single inflectional category called ‘gerund-participle’.

  5. #5
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    Re: take to Ving, (gerund or present participle?)

    I'd like to add that although modern grammarians see no justification in making a distinction between the underlined words in the examples above, there is good pedagogical justification to be made, from the perspective of English language teachers.
    Last edited by GoesStation; 28-Jan-2021 at 13:55. Reason: Remove an extraneous word.

  6. #6
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    Re: take to Ving, (gerund or present participle?)

    Quote Originally Posted by PaulMatthews View Post
    Yes: traditional grammar calls the ing forms in your examples gerunds, since the clauses they head are functioning as complement to a preposition (“to”), a function typically filled by a noun phrase.

    Consider this pair:

    [1] I see he has recently taken to [smoking cigars again].
    [2] I see he is [smoking cigars again].

    In [1] traditional grammar calls “smoking” a gerund, and in [2] a present participle.

    But as Piscean touched on, modern grammar asserts that there is no justification for making any inflectional distinction between the verbs in [1] and [2]: they both belong to a single inflectional category called ‘gerund-participle’.
    Traditional grammar aside, gerunds are nouns and participles verbs, and they can easily and usefully be distinguished, even if not in all cases.

    (See post #5.)

  7. #7
    PaulMatthews is offline Member
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    Re: take to Ving, (gerund or present participle?)

    Gerunds are verbs. Some ing verbs happen to have noun forms that are best called gerundial nouns. Yes, the two forms can be distinguished by applying some simple tests.

    Present participles are also verbs, though some have adjective forms that are best called 'participial adjectives', reserving ‘participle’ for the verbs.

  8. #8
    PaulMatthews is offline Member
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    Re: take to Ving, (gerund or present participle?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    It's no wonder that some learners have problems.
    Indeed: the subject of gerunds vs present participles must surely rank as one of the most frequently asked questions by learners. The most important thing in this thread is that the OP got a solid answer to their question (see #6).

    This may help: Gerunds are not nouns; they are verbs. They are one of the secondary forms in the verb paradigm. The fact that some gerunds are functionally similar to nouns does not mean that they are in fact nouns. Those ing forms that function as heads of non-finite clauses are verbs, while those that function as heads of NPs are nouns (gerundial nouns).

    Consider this pair:

    [1] They were criticised for killing the seals. [verb]
    [2] I witnessed the killing of the seals. [noun]

    In [1] “killing” is a verb, traditionally called a gerund. There is nothing to be gained by calling it a noun. It’s clearly a verb by virtue of it having an NP object and the fact that it can be modified by an adverb (… for cruelly killing the seals).

    By contrast, killing is a noun in [2] by virtue of it combining with the determiner the, and the fact that it can be inflected for plural (these killings must stop).


    Present participles are verbs, but some also have adjective forms that are best called 'participial adjectives', reserving the term 'participle' for the verbs. Consider this pair:

    [3] The Smiths are entertaining their neighbours this evening. [verb]
    [4] The show was very entertaining. [adjective]

    In [1] entertaining is a verb by virtue of it having an NP object and the fact that it can be modified by an adverb (... are probably entertaining).

    In [2] entertaining is an adjective by virtue of it being modified by the degree adverb very.

  9. #9
    PaulMatthews is offline Member
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    Re: take to Ving, (gerund or present participle?)

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    Huddleston and Pullum (2002.82-920 also discuss participles and gerunds. They conclude: we reject an analysis that has gerund and participle as different forms syncretised throughout the class of verbs.We have therefore just one inflectional form of the verb marked by the -ing suffix; we label it with the compound term ‘gerund-participle’.
    Which is exactly what I said in #6.

    My answer #12 was of course based on trad grammar.
    Last edited by emsr2d2; 29-Jan-2021 at 16:38. Reason: Fixed the font issues in the quote

  10. #10
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    Re: take to Ving, (gerund or present participle?)

    So I think we all agree that -ing words are best considered to belong to one inflectional category, but that they can be used in lots of different ways.

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