What Is a Gerund, and What Does It Do?

Contributor: Allison Crews. Lesson ID: 13726

Learn all about gerunds and how to use them in this grammar lesson!


Grammar, Writing

English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Did you know sometimes verbs can act as nouns?

its true

Can you guess the gerund in this sentence:

Singing is my favorite hobby.

Read on to see if you're right!

  • Did you guess singing was the gerund?

If so, you're right!

Take a look:


Is is the verb.

My favorite hobby is a noun phrase acting as the object.

That leaves only singing, which is acting as a noun (the identifier of the activity), and it is also the subject of the sentence.

What Are Gerunds?

When a verb acts as another part of speech, it is called a verbal.

There are three types of verbal:

  • Participles, which act as adjectives

Example: My singing hobby is my favorite.

In this example, singing is modifying the noun hobby.

  • Gerunds, which act as nouns

Example: Singing is my favorite hobby.

  • Infinitives, which are verbs preceded by the word to and can act as nouns, adjectives, or adverbs

Example: To sing is my favorite hobby.

In this example, to sing is serving the same purpose as singing in the above example.

Since gerunds are verbals, they are based on verbs. That means they express an action or state of being.

Since they function as nouns, they can occupy any position in which a noun would appear in a sentence. That means they can be subjects (as above), objects, subject complements, or objects of prepositions.

Take a look at gerunds in each of these roles:

  • Walking is excellent exercise.

Walking is acting as a noun and is the subject of the sentence.

  • He needs to practice listening.

Listening is acting as a noun and is the object of the sentence because it tells what must be practiced.

  • Sheila's job is surveying for a title company.

Surveying is the subject complement, which is a noun that follows a linking verb and describes or identifies the subject.

  • Impressionism is my favorite style of painting.

Painting is acting as a noun and is the object of the preposition.


Identify what role the gerund is playing in each of the sentences below.

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Great work!


Now you're ready to try some guided practice with gerunds!

Click through to the Got It? section to check it out.

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