A gerund is a verb in its present participle form (root verb + “ing”) that acts as a noun in a sentence. For example, “Cooking is fun.” Nouns are words (other than pronouns) used to identify any of a class of people, places, or things ( common noun ), or to name a particular one of these ( proper noun ).

The definition of a gerund is any of various nonfinite verb forms in various languages; most often, but not exclusively, one that functions as a noun. In English, it has the properties of both verb and noun, such as being modifiable by an adverb and being able to take a direct object.


Positive: Standing by the edge of her seat, she waited for the next scene.

Negative: The best thing for your health is not drinking.

Gerund as subject

  • Surfing is fun.
  • Swimming helps me stay in shape.
  • Sleeping is hard if you suffer from anxiety.

Phrase: Being rude to customers won’t earn you many tips.

Subject complement:

  • His favorite activity is reading.
  • The thing she hated most about school was getting up early.

gerund as object of preposition

Direct object: Gisele has mastered sailing.

He hate taking the trash out.

Object of a preposition: He quickly resorted to begging.

How do you know if a verb is gerund or infinitive?

Knowing the difference between them can save you from making costly grammar mistakes when writing. In a nutshell, a word formed from a verb acting as a noun and ending in ing is a gerund. Infinitive phrases – normally referred to as infinitives – are formed with the word to in front of a verb.

Infinitive verbs

  • To be
  • To eat
  • To feel


  • Swimming
  • Running
  • Eating
When can you not use a them?

You must use an infinitive (“to go”), never a gerund, after certain verbs followed by nouns or pronouns referring to people.

Incorrect: We asked her not going. Correct: We asked her not to go. In this sentence, “we” is the subject, “asked” is the verb and “her” is the objective form of the pronoun “she.”

Gerunds should be used with possessive pronouns (my, your, her), and not object pronouns (me, him etc). Note that this rule is not strictly observed especially in the case of proper nouns.

Incorrect: I am thinking to write my autobiography. Correct: I am thinking of writing my autobiography.

‘We’re shaking.’ This is a present continuous sentence. We can have both in the same sentence. Present continuous and the gerund.

‘We’re going shopping.’

Here’s another: We’re going skating on Friday in the sculpture garden.

Since gerunds are not verbs, they cannot replace verbs. A sentence that contains only a gerund is actually missing a main verb. Any sentence on the SAT or the ACT that includes only a gerund is automatically incorrect.