What’s a gerund you might ask? It’s a word ending in -ing. Swimming, running, smoking…etc! What’s difficult about it? Well of course it seems obvious when to use a gerund when you are a native english speaker. More complicated it is when you don’t! It isn’t always called a gerund for starters. There are three common uses of the gerund.
- In continuous tenses – I am running. I have been running. I had been running. I will be running.
- Whenever a verb follows a preposition – Complete this form by signing youe name at the bottom.
- When following a normal verb. I enjoy listening to music.
That last one is tricky. When you have two verbs together, the first verb is conjugated into the correct tense. The second verb will either take the base form (be), the infinitive form (to be) or the gerund (being). How do you work out which one? The base form is easy – that follows a modal verb (can, could, would, must, shall etc.) Some verbs must be followed by the infinitive (you can’t say “I want working at Wal*Mart”) whilst some must be followed by a gerund. Some verbs can take either form with no change of meaning (commonly, emotion verbs – “I love to watch TV in the evening” and “I love wathing TV in the evening” are both fine) whilst a few verbs can take both forms after them, but with a change of meaning. “I stopped to smoke” means something very different to “I stopped smoking”
Have I got any sympathy out of you yet for the poor English students of the world??