Gerunds are words formed by adding -ing to the ends of verbs (walk+ing, eating, shopping, writing and so on). Gerunds turn verbs into nouns.
In sentences gerunds can have one of several functions:
Gerunds can be used as the subject when it is a noun and it is the action described by the verb e.g.
- Eating is all my cat wants to do. (Eating is usually a verb but in this example it is the name of an activity)
- Playing is what my cat does best. (See above)
- Sleeping on a sunny window seat is another favourite thing he likes to do. (Gerund followed by a modifying adverbial phrase on a sunny window seat. Put together, these form a gerund phrase)
When gerunds act as subjects, verb forms that follow it are 3rd person singular.
Gerunds can be the direct object in sentences e.g.
- My cat loves his eating. (eating here is the result not the action of the verb)
- He is enjoying his sun-kissed sleeping spot. (sun-kissed sleeping spot is the object)
- My wife does not always appreciate the cats’ playing when the baby is sleeping. (playing is the direct object of this sentence)
Gerunds can be the objects of prepositions e.g.
- Those cats could receive prizes for their sleeping. (for their sleeping is the result of the activity not the activity)
- The kids laughed and laughed at him for his snoring. (gerund is snoring)
Gerunds can be compliments in a sentence e.g.
- The cats like to do their playing in the mornings. (playing is not the action but something that is done)
- And their sleeping in the afternoons. (again sleeping is not the action it is what is done)
Now you have a go at writing your own sentences using gerunds functioning in these four ways.