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.

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

Tip!

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.

Tip!

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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