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 has a gerund, its object, and any modifiers or complements.

Gerund Phrases: Parts

A gerund phrase consist of:

  • a gerund
  • its object (also called gerund complement)
  • modifiers (adverbs or adverbial/prepositional phrases) which in itself can contain another gerund!

Let's start with some easy examples, then work our way up to the more complex ones:

Driving a car carelessly will cause great trouble.

A gerund phrase always starts with the gerund.

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 being careful will cause great trouble.

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

Let's dissect more gerund phrases:

Drinking wine heavily is bad for your health.

The parts of the gerund phrase are:

  • gerund → drinking
  • direct object → wine
  • modifier → heavily

I enjoy watching the sunset in the mountaintop.

Here are the parts of the gerund phrase:

  • gerund → watching
  • direct object → the sunset
  • modifier → in the mountaintop

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


A gerund phrase can be without 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 can take the functions of:

  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.


A gerund phrase normally does not need any punctuation with it.

Gerund Phrases vs. Participle Phrases

Do not confuse gerund phrases with participle phrases. Remember that: When used as a modifier—that is, as an adverb—it is now a participle phrase.

  • When used as a noun it a gerund phrase
  • When used as a modifier (an adjective or an adverb) it a participle phrase

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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