People can sometimes get a little confused about what a gerund is and this is perhaps because the same word can be described in different ways.
Look at these sentences. How is the word driving being used in each case?
- We are driving to Bristol in the morning.
- We were driving in the rain when the accident happened.
- I had been driving for about two hours when I decided to stop for a coffee.
- He will be driving for about six hours a day with that freight company.
- Driving is something that I have always hated.
- I loved the holiday but the driving was exhausting.
In the first four sentences, the word driving is a verb used in a range of different tenses. The word driving in those first four sentences is a continuous participle form.
- Present Continuous tense
- Past Continuous tense
- Past Perfect Continuous tense
- Future continuous tense
However, in the last two sentences, the word driving is not being used to construct a verb tense. It is being used as a noun. In other words, it is a gerund. The writer or speaker is using the word driving to refer to the activity itself.
Have a look at these further examples of -ing words being used as gerunds:
- Flying is something that I’ve always been afraid of.
- Cycling is an activity that I’ve always enjoyed.
- The reading by her brother was definitely the best part of the service.
- I enjoy gliding but I don’t like parachuting.
- I was hungry but eating was the last thing on my mind.
- I saw the danger a warning was impossible.
- I like writing but I hate proof-reading.
- Suffering is something we all have to do.
Some verbs commonly are associated with gerunds including:
like, love, hate, enjoy, avoid, detest, finish, begin, imagine, practise, stop, start.
Are the -ing words in the sentences below being used as participles or gerunds?
- 1. Was she smiling when you saw her?
- 2. I saw him yesterday and he was working hard.
- 3. I think that grinning looks rather silly.
- 4. We saw him standing by the clock-tower.
- 5. Cooking takes far too much time.
- 6. She said that sleeping is something we do for a third of our lives.
- 7. There he was – just lying beside the rusty old car.
- 8. Do you like working?
- 9. Crying is something I never do.
- 10. Cycling is a wonderful sport.
The following sentences contain gerunds:
3. grinning 5. cooking 6 sleeping 8. working 9. crying 10. cycling