Writers – Do You Know How To Use The Gerund?

Do You Know How To Use The Gerund?How well can you use the gerund?

One of the most used, but misunderstood points of grammar is the gerund. Although it is something that as writers we use naturally and without thinking, a little understanding of its use can improve one’s writing considerably. Especially in forming interesting sentence forms that avoid overuse of the standard subject-verb construction.

So, let’s have a look at this wonderfully flexible grammar point. There are four basic rules governing the use of the gerund.

The gerund is the -ing form of a verb that is used as a noun but is not to be confused with the present participle, which is always preceded by the verb ‘to be’. For example, We enjoyed visiting the Stock Exchange. The children kept disturbing their father. Yesterday I quit smoking for the thirteenth time. Compare: I like swimming.  I like chocolate. Swimming and chocolate both being nouns.

Frequently, the gerund is preceded by a preposition: After seeing the film, we went to a restaurant. Not by working but by thinking about working will we succeed. Despite solving the problem of inflation, the government became unpopular.

Thirdly, the gerund is traditionally preceded by the possessive form of the pronoun: however, in these more liberal times, the object form is also used: She objected to his (him) playing golf on their wedding anniversary.

Fourthly, certain verbs are used in combination with the gerund only: they are, admit, appreciate, avoid, consider, deny, enjoy, escape, finish, imagine, keep, miss, postpone, practise, quit, resent, resist, suggest and stop.

So try your hand at using the gerund to re-write the 20 sentences below. Good luck! (If you get stuck, the answers can be found here.)

01. He said that he had stolen the watch.
The accused _____________________________________________________

02. He said that she must go with him.
He insisted _____________________________________________________

03. I would like to see the film again.
I wouldn’t mind _____________________________________________________

04. Let’s leave the car here.
What about _____________________________________________________

05. He drove too quickly, so they arrested him.
He was arrested _____________________________________________________

06. Why don’t we stop here?
What about _____________________________________________________

07. Paul wonders if he might emigrate.
Paul is thinking _____________________________________________________

08. He told us he was sorry that he was late.
He apologised _____________________________________________________

09. He will resign, no matter what I say.
I can’t prevent _____________________________________________________

10. Sorry to disturb you like this.
Forgive _____________________________________________________

11. He told them that he was guilty.
He admitted _____________________________________________________

12. He complained over and over again.
He kept _____________________________________________________

13. The park attendant told them they were not allowed to walk on the grass.
The park attendant told them to _____________________________________________________

14. It cost too much.
It wasn’t worth _____________________________________________________

15. It was kind of you to meet me.
Thank you _____________________________________________________

16. It was kind of you to lend me the book.
Thank you _____________________________________________________

17. I t would be quite pleasant to go to the concert.
I wouldn’t mind _____________________________________________________

18. I would be grateful if you would not play that rock music.
Would you mind _____________________________________________________

19. “Why don’t we stay at home and play Monopoly,” he said.
He suggested _____________________________________________________

20. “It wasn’t me,” he protested.
He denied _____________________________________________________

2 thoughts on “Writers – Do You Know How To Use The Gerund?”

  1. Interesting article, Derek, and the web certainly can use more like this. The gerund is so flexible that I notice ESL folks using it for every sentence. A gerund allows one to use a verb without knowing the tense, which as we know can be tricky in English. So instead of think, thought, (present, past) I can say “I have been thinking that . . .” Perhaps I am misunderstanding point four, that certain verbs are used with the gerund only. I don’t expect you to admit defeat and appreciate your article!

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