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The Gerund comes from the OE verbal noun. It is formed by adding the suffix -ing to verbal stem and coincides in form with Participle I. The Gerund has both verbal and noun characteristics.
Verb Characteristics of the Gerund
1. The Gerund has: tense and voice (transitive verbs only) distinctions:
1. The Indefinite Gerund expresses the action simultaneous with that of the finite form of the verb:
e.g. He tells (told, will tell) me of his writing a report.
• The Indefinite Gerund may also refer to the future when it is used with such verbs as to insist, to intend, to suggest:
2. The Perfect Gerund indicates an action prior to that expressed by the finite form of the verb:
e.g. I'm surprised of having done it.
Note: The Indefinite Gerund is commonly used instead of the Perfect Gerund after:
1) the prepositions on, upon, after, without, because the meaning of the preposition itself indicates that the action of the Gerund is prior to that of the finite verb:
After catching a few fish we prepared a delicious breakfast.
2) the verbs to remember, to excuse, to forgive, to thank:
e.g. I don't remember hearing the legend before.
Using the Perfect Gerund is possible though rare:
e.g. He didn't remember having been in that room.
2. The Gerund of a transitive verb may have a direct object:
e.g. Would you mind my opening the window?
3. The Gerund can be modified by an adverb:
e.g. I was surprised at his speaking English so fluently.
Noun Characteristics of the Gerund
1. Noun characteristics of the gerund are manifested in its syntactic functions. It can be used as a subject or an object (direct or prepositional) of the sentence. When used as an attribute or an AM the Gerund also shows its nominal character: it is always preceded by the preposition, which is a formal mark of the noun:
She intends leaving tomorrow (direct object)
I have the pleasure of living here (attribute)
After catching a few fish we prepared a delicious breakfast. (AM of time)
2. The Gerund may be used with the possessive pronoun or noun in the Possessive case:
The Functions of the Gerund in the Sentence
The Gerund can be used in different syntactic functions, as:
1. a subject
e.g. Learning rules without examples is useless.
Note: When the subject of the sentence is a gerundial phrase it's sometimes placed after the predicate, then the sentence begins with the pronoun "it" - an introductory word called the anticipator:
e.g. It's no use crying over spilt milk.
Note: The Gerund may be also used as a subject in the construction ^
e.g. There is no denying the fact.
2. a predicative
e.g. Seeing is believing.
Deciding is acting.
3. a part of a compound verbal predicate
e.g. At night it began raining.
Note: The verbs to begin, to start, to continue may be also followed by the Infinitive:
e.g. She continued reading. / She continued to read.
e.g. He couldn't help admiring her.
4. a direct object
e.g. It looks like raining.
The bird was busy feeding her young.
The facts are worth mentioning.
5. a prepositional object
a) to such verbs as to think of/about, to rely on, to depend on, to count on, to object to, to give up, to thank for, to prevent from, to insist on, to succeed in, to devote to, to look forward to*, to dream of, to (dis)approve of, etc:
b) to such adjectives and participles (used mostly predicatively) to be fond of, to be capable of, to be tired of, to be proud of, to be ignorant of, to be used to, to be intent to, to be accustomed to, to be successful in, to be interested in, to be afraid of, etc:
I'm not used to getting such presents.
c) to such words as instead of, without of:
e.g. Instead of telling the truth he kept on lying.
6. an attribute always with the preposition (mostly of) to such nouns as pleasure (of), idea, risk, intension, way, choice, advantage, reason (for), excuse (for), method (for), etc:
e.g. I had the pleasure of living there.
7. an AM always with a preposition:
The Gerund and the Infinitive
There are words that can take either the Infinitive or the Gerund:
Either the Infinitive or the Gerund may be used without any difference in meaning, but the Infinitive is more usual with verbs of knowing and understanding:
e.g. I began working / to work. cf I begin to understand.
If the main verb is progressive, the Infinitive is usually used:
After this verb the Infinitive is more usual than the Gerund:
e.g. I intend to sell it / selling it.
But when intend is followed by an object the Infinitive is necessary:
e.g. I never intended things to turn out the way they did.
To speak about things in general the Gerund is used. The Infinitive is mostly used with the reference to a special occasion:
e.g. She doesn't like going out (in general). She prefers watching TV.
I don't like to go there (now). I prefer to stay at home.
If the person concerned is mentioned then the Infinitive is used:
e.g. They don't allow us to park here.
But if the person is not mentioned the Gerund is used:
e.g. They don't allow parking here.
These verbs can be followed either by the Gerund or the Infinitive, the Gerund being more usual:
e.g. The grass needs cutting./The grass needs to be cut.
REGRET, REMEMBER, FORGET
With these verbs the Infinitive mostly refers to the future, while the Gerund refers to the past:
I remember seeing him. Remember to buy the book.
I'll never forget waiting for you. (usually negative) Don't forget to lock the door.
In the meaning to end, to cease it is followed by the Gerund:
e.g. Stop talking!
In the meaning to halt it is followed by the Infinitive of purpose:
e.g. On my way home I stopped to talk with my friend.
In the meaning to attempt, to make an effort it is followed by the Infinitive:
e.g. Maria tried to learn English, but she found it too difficult and gave up.
In the meaning to experiment it is followed by the Gerund:
e.g. The room was hot. I tried opening the window, but that didn't help. So I tried turning on the fan, but it was still hot. Finally, I turned on the air conditioner.
USED followed by the Infinitive denotes past repeated action:
e.g. I used to read many books when I was a child.
^ followed by the Gerund has the meaning to be accustomed to:
e.g. I'm not used to getting such presents.
In the meaning to intend to do sth it is followed by the Infinitive:
e.g. I didn’t mean to upset you.
In the meaning to have a particular meaning it is followed by the Gerund:
e.g. His order meant staying at home for one more hour.
Predicative Constructions with the Gerund
The Gerund can form predicative constructions, in which the verbal element expressed by the Gerund is in predicative relations to the nominal element expressed by a noun or a pronoun:
e.g. I don't like your going off without money.
The nominal element of the construction can be expressed in different ways:
1. If it denotes a living being it may be expressed:
e.g. Do you mind my smoking?
e.g. I have recollection of Ann’s (Ann) getting married.
Note: The two constructions may be used indifferently, but sometimes there is a slight difference in meaning: in the first case the action (the verbal element of the construction) is emphasized, whereas in the second case the doer of the action (the nominal element of the construction) is emphasized.
There are cases when the nominal element of the construction, though denoting a living being, cannot be expressed by a noun in the possessive case, but only by a noun in the common case:
a) when it consists of two or more nouns:
b) when it is a noun modified by an attribute in postposition:
e.g. Did you ever hear of a man of sense rejecting such an offer?
2. If it denotes a lifeless thing it is expressed:
e.g. I said something about my clock being slow.
e.g. She spoke of my room and of its being ready for me at night.
3. It may be expressed by a pronoun which has no case distinctions, such as all, this, that, both, each, something:
e.g. I insist on both of them coming in time.
Such constructions may function as a complex subject, object, attribute or adverbial modifier.
A Gerundial construction used as a subject is often introduced by an anticipatory it:
e.g. It was quite unexpected his coming back so soon.
A Gerundial construction is nearly always rendered in Ukrainian by a subordinate clause:
Her thoughts were interrupted at last by the door opening gently. – Її думки були, нарешті, перервані тим, що двері тихенько відчинились.
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