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Read the following sentences.

  • Smoking isn’t always good for your health.
  • I like reading biographies.

In the first sentence, smoking is the subject of the verb is. In the second sentence, reading is the object of the verb. smoking and reading are formed by adding – ing to the verbs smoke and read.

In the second sentence, storybooks are the object of the reading. Thus, reading also acts as a noun and takes on an object of its own.

Notes: When the – ing form of a verb is used as a noun, it is known as a gerund. A gerund is also known as a verbal noun because it acts both as a noun and a verb. A gerund can take an object like a verb.


A gerund may be used as –

  1. the object of a verb.

For Example

  • Riding a bicycle is pretty easy.
  • Listening to music is her hobby.
  • Paying taxes on time is a good habit.
  1. the object of the transitive verb.

For Example

  • I loveplaying the violin.
  • We couldn’t helpKartik.
  • Your footwear requiresmending.
  1. the object of a preposition.

For Example

  • Ashwani is fond ofSketching.
  • We were intent onachieving our ambition.
  • I am not accustomed tosleeping on the terrace.
  1. the complement of a verb.

For Example

  • Giving is higher than receiving.
  • What she abhors issmoking.
  1. absolutely.

For Example

  • The reading of poems is my favourite pastime.
  • Smoking being his loathing, we did not provide him with a cigarette.
  1. ordinary nouns.

For Example

  • The playing of cards is prohibited here.
  • They consented to the staging of the play.

Here playing is used as an ordinary noun. Notice how the is used before and of is used after the verb.

  • Here is a composition of the three non-finite verbs.
Infinite(to + verb)Gerund(verb + -ing used as a noun)Past/Present Participle(verb + -ing or ed/en used as a modifier/ an adjective)
I promised to go shopping with my mother.Painting is one of my favourite hobbies.Climbing plants adorned the walls of the bungalow.Lessons learnt practically are never forgotten.


Sometimes gerunds and infinitives have the same uses since both have the force of a noun and a verb. In a few cases, either a gerund or an infinitive may be used. For example –

  • Raj loves swimming. (gerund)

Raj loves to swim. (infinitive)

  • Amit started to climb the hill. (gerund)

Amit started climbing the hill. (infinitive)

  • Common errors in the use of participles –
1. Standing by the hedge, a snake bit him.1. When he was standing by the hedge, a snake bit him.
2. Walking up the slope, an abandoned shed was seen.2. Walking up the slope, she noticed an abandoned shed.
3. Going around the corner, a ghastly sight was seen.3. Going around the corner, he noticed a ghastly sight.
4. Climbing up the stairs, a bee stung him.4. When he was climbing up the stairs, he was stung by a bee.

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