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Gerund – The Verbal Noun in English: Everything You Need to Know

Are you preparing for your final exams or another important English test? Refresh your memory with key information about the gerund in English, including examples of its use in sentences.

What is a gerund?

The term gerund refers to the non-finite form of a verb ending in -ing, such as:

  • swimming
  • writing
  • being

It can function in various roles within a sentence (e.g., as a subject or object) and is similar in this respect to another non-finite form – the infinitive.

When do we use the gerund form?

The choice between using a gerund or an infinitive depends on the word immediately preceding it. For example, after the verb (to) suggest, we use a gerund, and after the verb (to) agree, an infinitive:

  • I suggested taking a taxi.
  • He agreed to pay for it.

With verbs like to begin, to continue, and to start, you can use either a gerund or an infinitive without changing the meaning:

  • It started to rain. = It started raining.

Verbs such as to remember, to forget, to stop have different meanings depending on whether they are followed by an infinitive or a gerund:

  • Remember to pay the bill.
    I don’t remember paying the bill. – I don’t remember if I paid the bill.
  • I’ve forgotten to buy milk.
    She forgot buying the milk. – She forgot she had already bought the milk.
  • He stopped to smoke.
    He stopped smoking. – He quit smoking.

List of Verbs

Here is a list of some verbs after which we use the gerund:

  • to enjoy
    • I enjoy reading books at night.
  • to stop
    • He stopped smoking when he fell ill.
  • to finish
    • We should finish making noise at 10 pm.
  • to keep
    • Please, keep on talking.
  • to avoid
    • Do you know how to avoid getting sunburnt?
  • to consider
    • I am considering changing my job.
  • to mind
    • I don’t mind you opening the window.
  • to discuss
    • We are discussing going to Italy next week.
  • to imagine
    • Just imagine you marrying the Prince of Wales!
  • to resist
    • I resist being tempted to spend a lot of money on clothes.
  • to regret
    • I regret organizing the party next Saturday.
  • to suggest
    • We suggest going to the cinema tonight.

Other Uses of the Gerund

The gerund form is also used after prepositions and verbs with prepositions:

  • the idea of
    • The idea of going to Japan next summer is very appealing.
  • interested in
    • Are you interested in reading scientific magazines?
  • opposed to
    • I am opposed to accepting violence on TV.
  • instead of
    • Instead of drinking coffee, she decided to have a cup of tea.
  • accused of
    • He was accused of stealing.
  • to give up
    • I think you should give up smoking.
  • to think about / of
    • What do you think about going abroad for good?
  • to object to
    • She objects to being treated like a child.
  • to look forward to
    • I look forward to listening to the new jazz band.
  • to thank for
    • We thank you for helping us in this sad moment.
  • to apologize for
    • I must apologize to Mary for forgetting about her birthday.
  • to disapprove of
    • I disapprove of waking him up so early.
  • to prevent
    • Why didn’t they prevent it from happening?

Gerund – Passive Voice

In English, the gerund can be used in the passive voice, for example:

  • I don’t mind being called a stranger.
  • We insisted on being given more wine.
  • Our baby boy enjoys being held by his older sister.

You can find more topics on English in SuperMemo courses.