A gerund is not really a verb, but is made from a verb. Verbs ending in -ing, are the continuous form of the verb.

  • She is eating chocolate

However a verb ending in –ing may also be a present participle and acts more like a verb or an adjective

  • She has been eating chocolate

or it may be a gerund and is more like a noun,

  • Eating chocolate is fun

It is important to understand that they are not the same.

The gerund after prepositions

The gerund is used when a verb comes after a preposition.


  • She is good at swimming.
  • He crossed the river by swimming across.
  • We reached the airport after driving through heavy traffic.
  • We decided against eating the fruit as it had been washed in dirty water.

The gerund as the subject of the sentence

The gerund is used when the verb becomes the subject of the sentence.


  • Smoking causes lung cancer.
  • Eating vegetables is healthy.
  • I enjoy playing football.

The gerund after phrasal verbs


  • You should give up smoking?
  • She always keeps on asking for more time off.

We ended up giving her more time off.

The gerund in compound nouns

In compound nouns using the gerund, it is clear that the meaning is that of a noun, not of a continuous verb. For example, with the word “swimming pool” it is a pool for swimming in, it is not a pool that is swimming.

  • The sitting room is open.
  • The riding lesson starts in 10 minutes.
  • I’ll meet you at the swimming pool.
  • The working class men

Thus the -ing form of the verb can function as a noun, adjective an adverb as well as a verb; in certain sentences the distinction can be arbitrary.

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