Friday, February 8, 2013

Grammar Corner: Gerunds and Particples

Most of us know what these little critters are even if not all of us know what they are called.  Let's start with gerunds.  A gerund is a verb ending in 'ing' that has been re-purposed in the sentence to act as a noun.  You can find another definition and several examples here, but I've also included my own take on this grammar component below.

  • Teaching is my favorite profession. (In this sentence teaching becomes a noun and the subject.)
  • Sometimes all I can think about is teaching.  (Again, teaching is a noun but it become the direct object of the subject.)
  • I don't like running on sand.  (The gerund is still running but it now acts as a gerund phrase for the entire direct object is 'running on sand' as the thing that is disliked.)
  • Running never held much enjoyment for me, particularly when done on sand.  (Running is clearly the subject.)

When it comes to participle phrases, the 'ing' verb remains a verb but does not act as the link between subject and predicate.  These phrases appear at the beginning of a sentence and let us know what has happened, or is happening, at the time of the sentence which they accompany.  A past particle phrase indicates something happened and a present participle phrase indicates it's happening right now.

  • Tossed about during the boat ride, she felt like throwing up when they finally reached shore.  ('Tossed about during the boat ride' is the participle phrase and as it is in the past tense, it is a past participle.)
  • Glaring, he imagined his fist making contact with his brother's smug face. (Glaring is a stand alone present participle.)
  • Glaring at his brother's smug face, he imagined punching him. ('Glaring at his brother's smug face' is a present participle phrase.)
  • Thoroughly drenched by the sudden downpour, Elaine changed her mind about meeting Mr. Sampson for tea.  ('Drenched by the sudden downpour' is a past participle phrase and thoroughly modifies it.)

Amanda LaFantasie (Skoora) © 2013

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