Thursday, 18 April 2013

The Gerund



The gerund is a non-finite form of the verb with some noun features. It is formed by adding the suffix -ing to the stem of the verb.

Example:  
Seeing is believing.

The gerund acts like a verb and a noun at the same time.

Like a verb:
     - It expresses action or a state of being.
     - The gerund has grammatical categories of voice and tense.
     - It may be modified by an adverb or have an object.  (E.g.: Reading (gerund) quickly (adverb) tires me.  I like reading (gerund) such books (direct object).)


Like a noun:
     - The gerund functions as a noun in sentences. That is, it can perform any syntactical function typical of a noun. For example, subject, predicate, part of a compound verbal predicate, attribute and adverbial modifier.
     - It can take various prepositions . When it is an attribute or an adverbial modifier, a gerund, like a noun is preceded by a preposition. (E.g.: There is a chance of catching the train (gerund as attribute).  Don’t forget to call me up before leaving London (gerund as adverbial modifier).)
      - Like a noun, but unlike the other non-finites, it can combine with a possessive pronoun and a noun in the genitive case denoting the doer of the action expressed by the gerund. (E.g.: Excuse my interrupting you. I insist on John’s staying with us. )

The Forms of the Gerund

The gerund has only two grammatical categories, those of voice and perfect.

  Active Passive
Indefinite writing being written
Perfect having written having been written

The Indefinite Gerund expresses an action simultaneous with that expressed by the finite verb.
E.g.: Children are fond of skating.

The Perfect Gerund expresses an action prior to that expressed be the finite verb.
E.g.: She learnt of his having taken the 1st prize.

Note: – A prior action may also be expressed by an Indefinite Gerund. This occurs after the verbs 'to remember', 'to excuse', 'to thank' and after the prepositions 'on' ('upon'), 'after' and 'without'.
E.g.: I don’t remember skiing in this forest before.
        Thank you for bringing me to this swimming pool.
        The girl was surrounded by her friends after doing a beam exercise.

The Category of Voice

The gerund of transitive verbs possesses voice distinctions. Like other verb forms, the Active Gerund points out that the action is directed from the subject (whether expressed or implied), whereas the Passive Gerund indicates that the action is directed towards the subject.
Compare:
  • I hate interrupting people. (Active Gerund) -- I hate being interrupted. (Passive Gerund) 
  • He entered without having knocked at the door. (Active Gerund) -- The door opened without having been knocked on. (Passive Gerund) 


Functions of Gerunds in Sentences

In sentences the gerund is used in the functions of the subject, predicate, part of a compound verbal predicate, attribute, adverbial modifier (of time, manner, attendant circumstances, condition, cause).

Patterns. Read and memorize!
  1. Losing a game of chess is always unpleasant. (subject) 
  2. It was no use trying to fight back. (subject) 
  3. My greatest wish was taking up basketball. (predicative) 
  4. 4. We could not help admiring the figure-skater. (part of a compound verbal modal predicate) 
  5. She began training for the competition last month. (part of a compound verbal aspective predicate) 
  6. I enjoy watching the relay. (object) 
  7. The coach avoided discussing the expected outcome of the competition. (object) 
  8. She had no hope of breaking the World Record in Javelin throw. (attribute) 
  9. The barometer is an instrument for measuring pressure. (attribute) 
  10. Upon putting the pieces on the chess-board my friend made the first move. (adverbial modifier of time) 
  11. The hall is often used for holding inter-college competitions. (adverbial modifier of purpose) 
  12. Chess is one of the few games which a sportsman starts without warming up first. (adverbial modifier of manner)

Note:
- As an adverbial modifier of time the gerund is preceded by the prepositions after, before, on (upon), in, at.
- As an adverbial modifier of purpose the gerund is preceded by the preposition for.
- As an adverbial modifier of manner the gerund is preceded by the prepositions without, by.

Gerund or Infinitive?

In Modern English the gerund is often competes with the infinitive. Therefore one should remember in which cases either verbal is possible and in which ones only the gerund or only the infinitive occurs.

The gerund is only used:
1). after the verbs to appreciate, to avoid, to delay, to deny, to dislike, to enjoy, to excuse, to fancy, to finish, to forgive, to give up, to go on, to keep, to mind, to postpone, to put off, to complain (of), to depend (on), to insist (on), to prevent (from), to thank (for), to look forward (to), can’t help, can’t stand and some others.
2). after the adjectives and participles worth, capable (of), fond (of), aware (of), proud (of), sure (of), surprised (at) and some others.
  • We all appreciate your helping us. 
  • I find the book worth reading

Either form is used after the verbs to begin, to continue, to intend, to prefer, to remember (1), to start, to stop (2), and some others, and after the adjective afraid (of)
  • We began translating this article an hour ago.   or    We began to translate this article an hour ago. 
Notes:
(1) The infinitive after the verb 'to remember' usually refers to the future, and the gerund refers to the past.
E.g.: Remember to warm up well before the game.
        I remember playing a very interesting game of chess with him.

(2) The infinitive after the verb 'to stop' is used as an adverbial modifier of purpose, the gerund – as part of a compound verbal predicate.
E.g.: They stopped to discuss the game.
         He usually stops bathing in late September.

Patterns. Read and memorize!

Examples of sentences with the verbs followed only by the gerund:
  1. He avoids meeting us. 
  2. The doctor advised him to give up diving
  3. He insisted on training more for the contest. 
  4. They went on passing the ball. 
  5. His illness prevented him from coming to root for his team. 
  6. I grew very fond of swimming in our sport camp. 
  7. We were very proud of opening the score. 
  8. Please excuse (pardon, forgive) my disturbing you. 
  9. Excuse me for disturbing you.

Examples of sentences with the verbs followed by either the gerund or the infinitive:
  1. In the second half time they continued to lead (leading). 
  2. We intended winning (to win) the game but we had to be content with a draw. 
  3. Every sportsman prefers to enter (entering) the top ten than to be (being) among the also-runs.


Gerundial Complex

The doer of the action denoted by a gerund may be expressed by
a) a noun in the possessive case or a possessive pronoun;
b) a noun in the common case;
c) pronoun in the objective case. These combinations are called gerundial complex.

Patterns. Read and memorize!
  1. Ann's coming so early surprised us. 
  2. We objected to his going there. 
  3. I remember our team beating yours in a game of basketball. 
  4. All sports-fans were proud of the high jumper breaking the national record. 
  5. We did not mind them scheduling the chess tournament for November. 
  6. Everybody insisted on this experiment being made once more.