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    #1

    gerund (with or without of) and definite article

    Those include (the) constructing of power lines and setting up of video surveillance.

    or

    Those include constructing power lines and setting up video surveillance.


    Which one is correct? Do I put definite article?

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    #2

    Re: gerund (with or without of) and definite article

    Quote Originally Posted by demimcgovern View Post
    Those include (the) constructing of power lines and setting up of video surveillance.
    or
    Those include constructing power lines and setting up video surveillance.
    Which one is correct? Do I put definite article?
    They both sound OK to me. Maybe whatever "those" were might shift the preference from one form to the other.

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    #3

    Re: gerund (with or without of) and definite article

    With the article, 'construction' sounds better to me.

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    #4

    Re: gerund (with or without of) and definite article

    As a footnote:

    1. Those include the constructing of power lines and setting up of video surveillance.

    2. Those include constructing of power lines and setting up of video surveillance.

    3. Those include constructing power lines and setting up video surveillance.

    I would agree that #1 sounds better with "construction"; the structure here (with a verbal noun) can give an impression of diffuseness.

    #2 does not seem quite correct to me; though in older forms of English, you could omit the definite article before the verbal noun.

    #3 (gerund) is more vigorous than #1.

    Best wishes,

    MrP

    Not a professional ESL teacher.


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    #5

    Re: gerund (with or without of) and definite article

    Hi all,
    I'm going to wade into this with a rather academic question, but one that i have been wrestling with for a few days now. This is the question of whether a gerund is a verbal noun or visa versa. I have come across various conflicting definitions furthering to only confuse me more. I think a few examples might illuminate this problem:

    the speech of english is beautiful(no problem here, speech is a verbal noun)
    the speaking of english is easy(is speaking a gerund?)
    moreover,
    the construction of power lines(a true verbal noun if ever i heard one)
    the erecting of power lines(hmmmm?)
    from Wikipedia "The writing of a book is always an ambitious undertaking. (writing is the verbal noun)"
    from An English Grammar by W.M. Baskervill and J.W. Sewell: the gerund expresses action [and] it is often preceded by the definite article.
    e.g. given "Our culture therefore must not omit the arming of the man"

    It is this conflicting idea of whether the gerund/verbal noun is expressing an action or naming an action. One last one, which is a gerund and which is a verbal noun; also, which is grammatically correct:
    "John's singing the National Anthem bothered me" "John's singing of the National Anthem bothered me"

    thanks in advance for taking a look at this, i'd really appreciate any input...even input that says this is nonsense!!!

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    #6

    Re: gerund (with or without of) and definite article

    Hello Crokey, welcome to Using English!

    Unfortunately the various authorities differ in their descriptions of these terms. It is quite common now to call any verbal form that ends in "-ing" an "ING form", for instance, irrespective of its function.

    My own view is as follows:

    1. The song bothered me.

    — I would call "song" here a "deverbal noun". "Deverbal" describes a word that is derived ultimately from a verb, but belongs to another class. Thus the deverbal noun "sailor" derives from the verb "sail".

    2. The singing of the national anthem bothered me.

    — I would call "singing" here a "verbal noun". It does not have the attributes of a verb (e.g. it can't take an object); but it is a verbal form. "The" can be replaced by "his", "John's", etc. A verbal noun tends to be qualified by an adjective (e.g. "the beautiful singing of...").

    This form preceded the gerund, in the evolution of English; the latter arose by the omission of "of", e.g.

    3. The singing the national anthem bothered me.

    — This halfway house sounds strange now; but the structure can be found in e.g. Elizabethan texts. It may seem less strange with a possessive:

    4. John's singing the national anthem bothered me.

    Cf.

    5. Singing the national anthem slowly is guaranteed to bother me.

    — "Singing" here is indisputably a gerund. It is both verbal (it can take an object; it can be qualified by an adverb) and nominal (it can stand alone as the subject of another verb).

    That said, a certain amount of fuzziness is understandable. Since a gerund is a double form, it can seem more verbal in one context, and more nominal in another. Thus qualifying a gerund with a possessive may make it seem more like a noun; while qualifying it with an adverb can bring out its verbal qualities.

    I hope that doesn't muddy the waters too much...

    All the best,

    MrP

    Not a professional ESL teacher.


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    #7

    Re: gerund (with or without of) and definite article

    hi mr.p,
    thank you for your reply, it was really helpful.

    "the singing of the bird woke me"
    "the bird's singing woke me"

    I wonder with the first one would "the singing of the bird's woke me", with the double possesive form inflecting "bird's", just as you would say "these thoughts of mine", the absolute possesive of "my" being used. Maybe in this example, because The Bird performed the action of singing, which bothered me, singing would be more like a gerund, because it suggests an action being performed. Whereas "the singing of the national anthem" certainly doesn't mean the national anthem sang, and so "singing" might therefore be a verbal noun. The reason i differentiate the two, is because of the definitions of a verbal noun and a gerund given in An English Grammar by W.M. Baskervill and J.W. Sewell: Verbal Noun
    "Derived from verbs by adding -ing to the simple verb. It must be remembered that these words are free from any verbal function They cannot govern a word, and they cannot express action, but are merely names of actions." and Gerund "the gerund expresses action, it has several attributes of a noun,—it may be governed as a noun; it may be the subject of a verb, or the object of a verb or a preposition; it is often preceded by the definite article; it is frequently modified by a possessive noun or pronoun." I took particular notice of the section that said "it is often perceded by the definite article, because that allows for a large range of overlap between both terms. Also, the phrase "the singing of the bird/the bird's singing"-in acting like a noun phrase-"woke me"-where "me" is the direct object- would appear to have "the bird's singing"and "the singing of the bird/bird's" taking an object. What do you think?
    Thanks again MR.P for even looking at it, it's pure pedantics but hey....i need a hobby!
    Last edited by Crokey; 29-Aug-2008 at 13:56.

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    #8

    Re: gerund (with or without of) and definite article

    Hello Crokey,

    I think you're right to my mind, #1 here is a gerund, and #2 is a verbal noun:

    1. The singing of the bird bothered me.
    2. The singing of the national anthem bothered me.

    The difficulty lies in the "of" phrase: in #1, it defines what was singing, and in #2, what was being sung.

    A gerund can take a direct object, as you say; but with a verbal noun, what would normally be the object of the verb has to be expressed with an "of" clause.

    3. The singing of the bird woke me.
    4. The singing of the national anthem woke me.

    Here, it seems to me that the underlined noun phrase is the subject of "woke", in each case, while "me" is the object of "woke".

    All the best,

    MrP

    Not a professional ESL teacher.


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    #9

    Re: gerund (with or without of) and definite article

    hi mr.p, its me again!
    how do you feel about possessives before a gerund?

    "John's singing bothered me".

    You are constantly told that the possessive should be used before a gerund(unless you are saying something weird and you wish to emphasise the subject of the gerund). However,

    "John's loud singing bothered me".

    Well "loud" is an adjectival attribute modifying singing, and you will never get an adverb to fit in there.

    "the correct speaking of the english language is important",
    "correctly speaking english is important".

    So, is it fair to say that if you can modify the -ing form with an adjecitval attribute, then it is a verbal noun and not a gerund?

    "john's singing the national anthem bothered me"

    "john's loud singing OF the national anthem bothered me".

    I could hardly have changed the nature of the word "singing" from a gerund in the first instance, to a verbal noun in the second, merely by adding an adjective. Furthermore, if in the first case, "singing" is indeed a verbal noun, should it written as "john's singing of the national anthem" , otherwise, without the preposition "of", singing would be taking the object "the national anthem".

    "singing the national anthem correctly is important"

    "the correct singing of the national anthem is important"

    in these examples, does the addition of an adverb in the former instance and the addition of an adjective in the later define whether the -ING form is either a gerund or verbal noun respectively? In which case, what is the "singing", when neither modifier is used?
    "singing the national anthem is important", and the syntax neccesarily changes when an adjective is used by the further addition of "the" and "of".


    have a nice day!

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    #10

    Re: gerund (with or without of) and definite article

    Hello Crokey, a cheery weekend to you.

    How do you feel about possessives before a gerund? / "John's singing bothered me".

    Possessives are fine before a gerund. When people say that a possessive should be used, they usually mean that a structure called the "fused participle" should not be used, e.g.

    1. I don't like John singing those songs. [fused participle]

    Cf.

    2. I don't like John's singing those songs. [possessive + gerund]

    (The argument against #1 is that "singing" doesn't qualify "John" as a participle, since if we subtract "singing those songs" and leave "I don't like John", the sentence has a completely different meaning. Against this, we can say that the entire phrase "John singing those songs" is the object of "don't like".)

    "John's loud singing bothered me" / Well "loud" is an adjectival attribute modifying singing, and you will never get an adverb to fit in there.

    That's fine; gerunds can take adjectives or adverbs. Verbal nouns, on the other hand, can only take adjectives; the fact that they can't be qualified with an adverb demonstrates that they're less "verbal" than a gerund.

    However, I think it's true that when we qualify a gerund with an adjective, we bring out its noun-side; and when we qualify it with an adverb, we bring out its verb-side.

    "John's singing the national anthem bothered me" / "John's loud singing OF the national anthem bothered me".
    I could hardly have changed the nature of the word "singing" from a gerund in the first instance, to a verbal noun in the second, merely by adding an adjective. Furthermore, if in the first case, "singing" is indeed a verbal noun, should it written as "john's singing of the national anthem" , otherwise, without the preposition "of", singing would be taking the object "the national anthem".


    In the first case, I would say, "singing" is a gerund; it has an object. In the second, the addition of "of" makes it a verbal noun: to use your earlier comment, it now simply names the action.

    "singing the national anthem correctly is important" / "the correct singing of the national anthem is important"
    in these examples, does the addition of an adverb in the former instance and the addition of an adjective in the later define whether the -ING form is either a gerund or verbal noun respectively? In which case, what is the "singing", when neither modifier is used?
    "singing the national anthem is important", and the syntax neccesarily changes when an adjective is used by the further addition of "the" and "of".


    I would say that the addition of "of" makes adverbial qualification no longer possible; the form can then be defined as a verbal noun, not a gerund.

    (The gerund is the direct descendant of the verbal noun: one grades into the other by very small differences. Hence the fact that very small differences change how we define a particular ing-form!)

    Best wishes,

    MrP

    Not a professional ESL teacher.

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