What is a gerund phrase? In this lesson, you will learn the definition, different components of a gerund phrase in English grammar. You will also find useful examples and forms of gerund phrases with ESL infographic.
What Is a Gerund Phrase?
It is a phrase that starts with a gerund and acts as a noun. To understand this better lets, define a gerund. A gerund is a verb that ends with –ing, but it functions as a noun and can also function as a complement, subject or object in a sentence. In other words, a phrase is a multi-word composed of a subject or a verb and not both. So, in simple terms gerund phrase can function as a complement, subject, or object while making the sentence more descriptive.
Gerund Phrase Examples
Let’s look at the examples of gerund phrases.
- Vying for Gubernatorial posts is a serious ambition.
Here “Vying for gubernatorial post” is the gerund phrase.
- Breastfeeding a baby regularly can help her to do away with hunger pains.
Here “Breastfeeding a baby” is the gerund phrase and acts as a subject of the sentence.
- A serious challenge to graduates is waiting to be employed.
Here “Waiting to be employed” is the gerund phrase and acts as a complement to the subject (challenge).
- I love writing with a pen.
“Writing with a pen” is the gerund phrase and functions as a direct object. It receives the action of the verb “love.”
Components of a Gerund Phrase
A gerund phrase is composed of a gerund and a phrase.
A gerund is a verb that ends with –ing, but it does not act as an action word in a sentence. It acts as a noun instead. To differentiate regular verbs ending with –ing from a gerund is to take a close look at the same word being used in either way.
- The kids were playing in the field.
Here “playing” is a verb, and “kids” is a subject that takes the action of a verb.
- Playing is what I love the most.
Here “Playing” is a gerund since it’s the subject.
- Harriet is chatting with John.
In this sentence, “chatting” is a verb since it’s the action being done by the subject (Harriet).
- Most young people like chatting.
Here “chatting” is a gerund. It’s the object that receives the action of the verb “like.”
A phrase is the other component of a gerund phrase. Keep in mind that a phrase is a multi-word that is composed of a subject (noun) or a verb, but not both. A gerund phrase is characterized by the use of prepositions such as in, at, for, among others.
Here is an example:
- Schoolchildren like staring at visitors.
Here “staring” is the gerund, and “at visitors” is the phrase.
Forms of Gerund Phrases
A gerund phrase acts as a noun; therefore, the kinds of gerund phrases suit the ways such a noun can be applied in a sentence. In this case, it may be used as a compliment, subject, or object.
As a Subject
- Watching movies past midnight is not recommended.
Here “watching movies past midnight,” which is a gerund, is the subject of the sentence.
- Typing documents on my computer are appealing to me.
Here the subject “Typing documents on my computer” is also the gerund phrase.
As an Object
Objects are words that receive the action of a verb or preposition in a sentence.
- John’s classmate tried doing an exam for him.
Here “doing an exam for him” is the direct object that received the action of the verb “tried.”
Gerund Phrase Infographic