Gerund Phrases

Grund phrases are phrases that have 'gerunds,' 'its object,' and any 'modifiers' or 'complements.' In this lesson, we will learn all about them.

Gerund Phrases in the English Grammar

What Are Gerund Phrases?

A gerund phrase is a phrase that includes a gerund and any modifiers, complements, or object that accompany it.
A gerund phrase acts as a single noun within a sentence, and it can serve various functions, such as a subject, object, or complement.

Gerund Phrases: Structure

A gerund phrase consist of:

Pay attention that a gerund phrase always starts with the gerund.
Let's start with a simple example:

Driving a car carelessly will cause great trouble.

In the gerund phrase above:

  1. 'Driving' is the gerund.
  2. 'A car' is the direct object of the gerund (also called the gerund complement)
  3. 'Carelessly is a modifier (an adverb).

Now take a look at a more complex example:

Driving a car without paying attention will cause great trouble.

  • gerund → driving
  • direct object → a car
  • modifier → without paying attention (gerund phrase)

Here, 'without paying attention' is an adverbial phrase, which itself contains a gerund phrase (paying attention) consisting of a gerund (paying) and its complement (attention).

'Baking a cake' is a gerund phrase used as the subject of the sentence

Tip!

A gerund phrase does not necessarily need an object:

Driving carelessly is a bad idea.

Gerund phrase → Gerund (Driving) + Modifier (carelessly)

A gerund phrase can also be without a modifier:

The dog doesn't care about destroying the flowers.

Gerund phrase → Gerund (destroying) + object (the flowers)

Gerund Phrases: Functions

A gerund phrase acts as a noun, therefore it can function as:

  1. a subject
  2. an object (direct and indirect)
  3. an object of a preposition
  4. a predicate nominative (the complement of a linking verb)

Baking cakes is my favorite hobby. → Gerund phrase is the subject.

My son enjoys playing with Legos. → Gerund phrase is the direct object.

He gave winning the contest his best shot. → Gerund phrase is the indirect object.

Studying a new language is futile without practicing daily. → Gerund phrase is the object of prepostion.

My favorite activity is traveling to exotic places. → Gerund phrase is the predicate nominative.

Tip!

A gerund phrase normally does not need any punctuation.

Gerund Phrases vs. Participle Phrases

Do not confuse gerund phrases with participle phrases. Remember:

  • Gerund phrase acts as a noun
  • Participle phrase acts as a modifier (an adjective or an adverb)

Drinking a cup of tea after waking up is refreshing.

This is a gerund phrase.

Drinking a cup of tea after waking up, Mary turned on the TV.

This is a participle phrase.

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