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Welcome to this week's writing lesson from

 MyEnglishTeacher.net

To Be Or Being?  That Is The Question!

Lesson Topic: Gerunds

(Although it is not necessary, we highly recommend that you look at our lesson on infinitives after doing this lesson.  To see our lesson on infinitives, click here.)

Your English teacher probably told you that some verbs are not used in progressive tenses, for example, I am knowing you.  No one would ever say I am knowing you.  This is INCORRECT.

We have also told you this in previous lessons.  (Just take a look at our lesson about the present perfect progressive.)  Many verbs simply cannot have -ing.  Here are a few more examples (they are all INCORRECT):
We are loving our teacher.
It is existing in my mind.
The children are hating my soup. 

Now we are going to say something CRAZY.  Hold onto your seats! 

Add -ing to all verbs!  That -ing can now go on almost any verb! 

Did we change the rules of English grammar?  No.

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So what happened?  Well, it is time to explain.  The rules that we, as well as your teacher, taught you are still correct.  Many verbs cannot have -ing.  These kinds of verbs are called stative verbs.  These verbs have little or no physical activity.  To see a list of stative verbs, click here.

So, let's explain gerunds.  Look at the following sentences?  Which words are the nouns?

Alaska is fun.
English is difficult.
That is ice cream.

Which words are the nouns?  Of course you know.  The nouns are Alaska, English, and ice cream.  You chose these words because you know that you need nouns in those places.  The red lines below show you where nouns are required.

______ is fun.
______ is difficult.
That is ______.

You can put any noun on these red lines (as long as it makes logical sense).  What if you want to say an action is fun or difficult?  That is when you need a gerund.  If you want to use an action word in a place that requires a noun, you can usually use a verb with an -ing ending.  For example, 

Fishing is fun.
Hiking is difficult.
That is ballet dancing.

In these sentences, fishing, hiking, and dancing look like verbs, but they are not verbs.  They are nouns.  When a noun looks like a verb with -ing, it is called a gerund.  

Even stative verbs (those verbs that almost never have -ing) can be turned into gerunds.  A native speaker of English would NEVER say I am believing you.  However, a native speaker could say 

Believing in God is important.

Believing, here, is a gerund.  It is NOT a verb.  Believing in God is a gerund phrase.

Gerunds act just like nouns.  Gerunds can be followed by possessive pronouns (my, his, her, our, their, its). They can also be followed by a possessive s.

My cooking is famous in my hometown.
Jake's driving scares me.

There is also a perfect (or past) form of gerunds. The past form of gerunds is formed by using having + past participle.  This kind of gerund suggests that the gerund happened before something else.

NO GERUND I have been to South Korea.
WITH GERUND My having been to South Korea helped me learn the language when I took classes.

*this suggests that the speaker had gone to South Korea BEFORE he took the language classes

This rule works not only for the present perfect, but also for other past tense forms.  Look at the following sentences.  The first one (without the gerund) uses the simple past tense (took).

NO GERUND I took a physics class.
WITH GERUND Having taken a physics class helped me in calculus.  

*this suggests that the speaker had taken a physics class BEFORE she took the calculus

There is also a passive form of gerunds.  The passive form of gerunds is formed by using being + past participle.

NO GERUND

I was accepted to Harvard University.

WITH GERUND

Being accepted to Harvard University was the greatest day of my life.

The passive form of gerunds is also formed by using getting + past participle:

NO GERUND

We got scared by that movie.

WITH GERUND

Getting scared by that movie made us leave before it finished.

For a list of irregular simple tense verbs and past participles, click here.

Some verbs are only followed by gerunds, not infinitives.
INCORRECT The criminals denied to steal anything
CORRECT The criminals denied stealing anything.

For a list of verbs that are followed by gerunds, click here.

For all charts that relate to gerunds and infinitives, click here

There are many gerunds that have the word go before it.  Here are some examples.  Notice the way go changes tense (go, went, gone), but the gerunds that follow do not change.
I love to go sailing on the weekends.
They went shopping for new dresses today.
Have you ever gone skiing?

For a list of gerunds that are preceded by go, click here.

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Quiz time

Directions: Read the sentences.  Make a gerund or gerund phrase from the first sentence.  Put that gerund in the second sentence.  The gerund replaces the it, this, that, these, and those in the second sentence.  The first one has been done for you.

1.  I watch airplanes take off.  It is very relaxing.

     Gerund or gerund phrase: watching airplanes take off.

     Answer: Watching airplanes take off is very relaxing.

2.  Jaesung got hit by the ball.  That sent Jaesung to the hospital.

     Gerund or gerund phrase:

     Answer:

3.  You should brush your teeth twice daily.  This is what all dentists recommend.

     Gerund or gerund phrase:

     Answer:

4.  Franklin was warned about drinking and driving .  It forced him to be much more careful on the highway. 

     Gerund or gerund phrase:

     Answer:

5.  She wants to be a journalist.  It is her dream.

     Gerund or gerund phrase:

     Answer:

6. You have to take the TOEFL.  It is the only way to get into that college.

     Gerund or gerund phrase:

     Answer:

7.  We have studied Spanish.  This helped us on our trip to Barcelona.

     Gerund or gerund phrase:

     Answer:

8.   Tom Lee took lots of biology classes.  Those helped him in medical school.

     Gerund or gerund phrase:

     Answer:

9.  The boys always get in trouble.  That isn't any fun.

     Gerund or gerund phrase:

     Answer:

10.  People cry.  That can make your whole face red.  

     Gerund or gerund phrase:

     Answer:

1.  I watch airplanes take off.  It is very relaxing.

     Gerund or gerund phrase: watching airplanes take off.

     Answer: Watching airplanes take off is very relaxing.

2.  Jaesung got hit by the ball.  That sent Jaesung to the hospital.

     Gerund or gerund phrase: getting hit  -OR-  getting hit by the ball 

     Answer: Getting hit sent Jaesung to the hospital.  -OR-  Getting hit by the ball sent Jaesung to the hospital. 

3.  You should brush your teeth twice daily.  This is what all dentists recommend.

     Gerund or gerund phrase: brushing your teeth

     Answer: Brushing your teeth twice daily is what all dentists recommend.

4.  Franklin was warned about drinking and driving .  It forced him to be much more careful on the highway. 

     Gerund or gerund phrase: Having been warned about drinking and driving

     Answer: Having been warned about drinking and driving forced him to be more careful on the highway.

NOTE: Was warned is the past passive voice.  Thus, use the passive voice form of gerunds.

5.  She wants to be a journalist.  It is her dream.

     Gerund or gerund phrase: wanting to be a journalist

     Answer: Wanting to be a journalist is her dream.

6. You have to take the TOEFL.  It is the only way to get into that college.

     Gerund or gerund phrase: taking the TOEFL

     Answer: Taking the TOEFL is the only way to get into that college.

7.  We have studied Spanish.  This helped us on our trip to Barcelona.

     Gerund or gerund phrase: having studied Spanish 

     Answer: Having studied Spanish helped us on our trip to Barcelona.

8.   Tom Lee took lots of biology classes.  Those helped him in medical school.

     Gerund or gerund phrase: Having taken lots of biology classes

     Answer: Having taken lots of biology classes helped him in medical school.

9.  The boys always get in trouble.  That isn't any fun.

     Gerund or gerund phrase: getting in trouble

     Answer: Getting in trouble isn't any fun.

10.  People cry.  That can make your whole face red.  

     Gerund or gerund phrase: crying

     Answer: Crying can make your whole face red.

 

  Rules to Remember!

1 Gerunds are nouns that look like ing-ending verbs.  They can be both subjects and objects.

     Gerund as a subject: Cooking is a very enjoyable activity.

     Gerund as an object:  My father loves cooking.

2

Gerunds are usually not plural.  You cannot say 

      Playings are fun.

3 For a list of verbs that are followed by gerunds, click here.

For a list of common go + gerund combinations, click here.

For all charts that relate to gerunds and infinitives, click here.

4 In general, when a noun is required in a sentence, a gerund can be used.  For example

     X is easier than Y.

     Working is easier than studying.

5 Although it is not necessary, we highly recommend that you look at our lesson on infinitives after doing this lesson.  To see our lesson on infinitives, click here.

Do you want to send this lesson to someone?  Click here!

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