Have you ever seen a sentence like this? I went swimming yesterday. So let me ask you a question: Which word in this sentence is a verb? ‘Went’ or ‘swimming’?
The correct answer is: Both. However they differ in function greatly. Let’s take the basic sentence construction — ‘Subject + Verb + Object’ and break down this sentence.
I (Subject) + went (Verb V2) + swimming (Object) yesterday.
But wait... How can a verb be an object? Objects are usually nouns, right? Well as in grammar there are rules upon rules, exceptions within exceptions. In this sentence the object is a verb that functions like a noun called ‘Gerunds’. Now, Gerunds don’t have to be exclusively used to describe objects as noun substitutes.
They can also be used to describe subjects:
Swimming is great for your health.
The meeting was held in the library last week.
Gerunds can also be used after prepositions:
Please don’t worry about (prep.) making mistakes.
We can achieve good health by jogging everyday.
Gerunds and ‘to + infinitives’ differ in the following ways:
Gerunds are usually used when the actions are real and completed:
I went jogging last night.
Gerunds can also be used to describe facts and routines:
Gambling is a total waste of time.
‘To +infinitives’ are usually used when the actions are imagined and planned for the future:
I want to jog tomorrow morning.
Many people confuse Gerunds as V4 (present participles). As you can see, their usages are quite different from each other. As long as you understand that:
Gerunds can act as nouns, where as V4s are used as verbs in conjunction with auxiliary verbs such as ‘is, were, are’.
Gerunds are usually used in actions are real and completed.
You can now use them much easier — try it today!
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