Gerund: Functions in a Sentence

The gerund always has the same function as a noun (although it looks like a verb). Like a noun, it can perform different functions in a sentence.

The gerund as the subject

  • Hunting lions is dangerous.
  • Flying makes me nervous.
  • Eating people is wrong.

The gerund as the object

Gerunds and gerund phrases can act as direct objects when used with another verb. Direct objects answer the question ‘what?’:

  • Mary loves skating. (Mary loves what? Mary loves skating.)
  • I enjoy running every morning.
  • Tom doesn’t like getting up early.
  • Ann enjoys shopping.

Sometimes, gerunds and gerund phrases are used as indirect objects. Indirect objects are used with a verb and a direct object (another noun). They often answer the question ‘to what?’:

  • I will give dancing my best shot. (give my best shot to what? To dancing.)
  • Jack made running his priority.
  • Jeremy gave skiing a try.

The gerund as the subject complement

Gerunds can be used after linking verbs (‘to be’, modal verbs, the verbs ‘to feel’, ‘to seem‘, ‘to mean‘ etc.) and complement the subject of the sentence.

  • Seeing is believing.
  • The most important thing is learning.
  • His mistake was talking too much.
  • Being a student sometimes means spending long ours with books.

The gerund after prepositions

The gerund must be used when a verb comes after a preposition. This is also true of certain expressions ending in a preposition, for example the expressions ‘in spite of’ and ‘there’s no point in’.

  • He is good at singing.
  • She avoided him by walking on the opposite side of the road.
  • There’s no point in waiting.

Watch this video about different functions of gerund in a sentence:

See also:

Gerund: Overview

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