Студопедия — The English gerund
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The English gerund

The gerund is a verbid characterized by the following features:

1. Its dual lexico-grammatical meaning of “an action partially viewed as a substance”.

2. The typical group morpheme -ing.

3. The grammatical category of voice (see paradigm below).

The Paradigm of the Gerund

Active Passive
writing being written
having written having been written


The gerund has the category of tense (the present and the perfect forms), which is expressed relatively: the present form of the gerund shows the simultaneous character of the action with the predicate action, whereas the perfect form expresses the action prior to the action, expressed by predicate. The priority of the action can be also expressed by the gerund present form in combination with prepositions on (upon) or after.

The category of aspect of gerund forms is connected with the category of tense and is subordinated to it. Whereas the category of state is expressed very distinctly: both tense forms of gerund have passive forms: reading – being read, having read – having been read.

4. The combinability resembling that of the verb (the gerund is associated with adverbs, with nouns or pronouns, denoting the object of the action) and that of the noun (the gerund is associated with prepositions, with possessive pronouns, nouns in the possessive case), e.g.: The district is justified in blindly ignoring the federal land.

The characteristic feature of the gerund is its usage in collocation with the noun (in possessive case) or with the possessive pronoun, which denote the subject of the action expressed by the gerund, e.g.: The student’s (his) knowing English will help him. – Те, що студент (він) знає англійську, допоможе йому. Very often the role of the gerund subject is fulfilled by the noun in the common case or by the demonstrative or indefinite pronoun altogether indeclinable, e.g.: We insisted on the contract being signed. Ми наполягали на тому, щоб угода була підписана.

The gerund, like the infinitive, combines verbal and noun features, yet the gerund is more of a noun than the infinitive, which is to some extent explained by the fact that the gerund became part of the verb system much later than the infinitive.

The combinability of the gerund differs considerably from that of the infinitive. Thus, the gerund may be preceded by a preposition, as in She thought of going there. We insisted on staying here. The wisdom of living is greater than the wisdom of the book.

In contrast to the infinitive, the gerund is often accompanied by a noun in the possessive case or a possessive pronoun. Sometimes the action denoted by the gerund is not associated with any doer, any producer of the action, as in Living is striving.

Very often the doer is not clear, as in I like singing (it is not clear whether I myself like to sing or I like other people’s singing). This is much rarer with the infinitive, which mostly denotes an action whose subject is represented by some word in a sentence. Compare: I like singing and I like to sing (in the latter sentence the doer of the action denoted by to sing is represented by I).

In addition, the infinitive possesses a peculiar modal force not observed in the gerund, as in article to be translated (= which must be translated) [5; 103–104].

5. Typical syntactic functions of the gerund are those of subject, complement, attribute, etc., e.g.: His returning so soon surprised his family. I remember meeting him in London.

The gerund, which is a peculiarity of the English language, is very extensively used as the center of complexes (nexuses) synonymous with subordinate clauses. Compare: I know of his having gone to Kyiv. I know that he has gone to Kyiv.

Together with its subject and other dependent on it words the gerund can form different peculiar syntactic constructions, the so called gerundial constructions. In their connections with other parts of the sentence these constructions are treated as one whole, whereas the relations between the words inside of such a construction remind of the relations between sentence parts (we mean here the predicate relations, the circumstantial relations and others), e.g.: His having gone to Kyiv was strange. Compare this example with its transformed versions, where the predicate relations become obvious: It was strange that he had gone to Kyiv and The fact that he had gone to Kyiv was strange.

Being used in the sentence as a separate word, the gerund fulfills syntactic functions more characteristic of a noun than of the verb: functions of the subject, the object, the prepositional circumstances and attributes, e.g.: Seeing is believing.

In Ukrainian usually the infinitive can be the name of the action, that is why it is often seen as the correspondence of the English gerund, e.g.: I like reading. Я люблю читати. More seldom Ukrainian nouns or dijepryslivnyky are the equivalents of the English gerund.

In cases, when the gerund is used in the construction, having the predicate relations, the only equivalent in Ukrainian can be the subordinate sentence with the verb predicate: There is no hope of our seeing him this year. Немає надії, що ми побачимось з ним у цьому році [5; 104].

The corresponding verb form is absent in majority of Indo-European languages, including Ukrainian. Somehow close in its meaning to the English gerund is the Ukrainian verbal noun (віддієслівний іменник), but there is a big difference between them. The verbal noun in both languages expresses the objectness (предметність), whereas the gerund expresses the processuality. The verbal noun, being created, has the stable character, whereas the English gerund, being the verb form, is created only for a particular case. For example, if we had the gerund in Ukrainian, then it would be possible to create from the verb the forms of the type * співання (compare with the verbal noun спів, співи).

In the English language though there is a clear distinction between the gerund and the verbal noun. It is revealed by a number of formal differences between these two notions: verbal nouns are used with articles, demonstrative pronouns and indefinite pronouns; it is not the case with the gerund. The gerund can take the non-prepositional object and be modified by circumstances as every verb form, whereas the verbal noun does not possess such characteristics.

Discussion questions and exercise tasks:

I. Consider your answers to the following:

1. Describe the general characteristics of non-finite verb forms. State their difference with finite forms of the verb.

2. Show the difference in the systems of Ukrainian and English non-finite forms of the verb or verbals.

3. Present the contrastive analysis of the infinitive in English and Ukrainian languages.

4. Dwell upon the difference of the grammatical paradigm of the English infinitive in comparison with its Ukrainian counterpart.

5. Describe the English participle versus Ukrainian “дієприкметник” and “дієприслівник”.

6. Present the examples of allomorphic and isomorphic features of the English Participle in comparison with the Ukrainian Participle.

7. Describe the nature of the Ukrainian “дієприслівник”. What are the ways of its rendering into English?

8. Present the characteristics of the allomorphic non-finite form of the verb – the English gerund. What are the ways of its rendering into Ukrainian? Provide examples.


II. Underline all verb phrases (finite and non-finite) in the conversation below. Identify the aspect (simple, perfect, and progressive) of each verb phrase and the tense characteristics (if possible):


A: I bet there’s a lot of stories. There are probably a lot of things that you know that Sara doesn’t.

B: Well, like yesterday I told Sara that she used to take us to Dunkin’ Donuts all the time when we were little and Sara goes, really? I’ve always had this warm feeling about Dunkin’ Donuts that it was a place to go in and sit on the stool.

A: There’s a lot of things that you guys have just talked about as far as your mom, but I can see in you there’s something remains warm and nurturing.

B: She used to bake a lot, that was another thing that we did, there was a lot of cooking and baking and she still likes to do that. There can be horrendous qualities about a person, but I think usually there’s a few good ones.

C: Well, I went to visit her last winter and I really had a great time for about half of the day because she’s drinking more heavily right now. So she’d get up until six thirty or something and she’d be cooking and cleaning the house and then by noon she would sort of slip into a stupor.

*The material is taken from “Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English Workbook” by Susan Conrad, Douglas Biber, Geoffrey Leech, Pearson Education Limited, 2003. – P. 42–43.


III. Underline all verb phrases (finite and non-finite) in the sentences below. Identify the voice of each transitive verb phrase: active or passive. If a verb is not transitive, identify it as intransitive or copular.

1. They said the Linkoln Bedroom was used only sporadically for family members and close friends (newspaper writing).

2. In Burma these days, wild elephants are captured and used for forced labor (newspaper writing).

3. As is shown in Figure 15, a considerable amount of waste crosses State lines (academic writing).

4. I flew from New York to Uganda, where I settled among black people with the same assumptions of welcome and kindness I had taken for granted in Georgia. I was taken on rides down the Nile as a matter of course, and accepted all invitations to dinner, where the best local dishes were superbly prepared in my honor. I became, in fact, a lost relative of the people, whose ancestors had foolishly strayed, long ago, to America. (fiction writing).

5. Currently, assistance can only be resumed when the president certifies that the country has returned to a democratically elected government (newspaper writing).

*The material is taken from “Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English Workbook” by Susan Conrad, Douglas Biber, Geoffrey Leech, Pearson Education Limited, 2003. – P. 43.


IV. Underline all verb phrases (finite and non-finite) in the piece of academic writing below. Identify the aspect (simple, perfect, and progressive) of each verb phrase, the voice (active or passive) and the tense characteristics (if possible):

Казка поєднує дорослого й дитину. Мова казки, звісно, зближує. Казка інформативніша, ніж звичайна стисла мова. Вона не видає свої положення за щось серйозніше, ніж символи, метафори чи аналогії.

Казка розвиває уяву дитини, а дорослого повертає у дитинство.

Чому саме казка?

У чотирирічному віці в дитини починається активний процес образного мислення. Мозок дитини реагує на світ лише емоційно! Емоція у перекладі з латини – вражаю, хвилюю. Справді, вона схожа на хвилю – пробігла тілом, викликала приємні чи неприємні відчуття і зникла. Упродовж розвитку мозок маляти вже здатний запам’ятати вплив різних джерел. Емоції, які мозок запам’ятовує і може по пам’яті відтворити, називаються почуттям. Викликавши в пам’яті почуття, закріплює його у вигляді образу. Останній може бути описаний різними способами. Головне, що будь-яке його відтворення, по суті є творчістю.

Мета казкотерапії – перетворити негативні образи на позитивні. Спокійний стан нервової системи повертає людині здоров’я.

У казках пацієнти бачать не реальний світ, а те враження, яке він на них справляє. Тобто свій внутрішній стан. Щоб описати його, вони шукають у зовнішньому світі аналогії і, оперуючи ними, створюють образи, повідомляючи при цьому про свій внутрішній стан. Це називається метафорою. Саме мовою метафор говорить наша психіка, а точніше – права півкуля головного мозку. Вчені вважають, що ця частина мозку відповідає і за наше здоров’я.

*The material is taken from the article “Роз Світлана. Цілющі вла­стивості казки відомі віддавна” // Урок Української. – № 11–12, 2005. – P. 47.

V. Create from the given infinitives a) “dijeprykmetnyky” (participles), b) “dijepryslivnyky”. Identify the types of created verbals ( e.g., контрольований – passive participle of the imperfective aspect ). Think of the ways of rendering them into the English language.

а) лежати, засохнути, застосовувати, одягати, посміхатися, змарніти, опасти, мерзнути, промокнути, квітнути, співати, зітха­ти, писати, посіяти, розпиляти, загоювати, роздрукувати, сформу­лювати, узгодити, змусити, заспокоїти, вловити, купити, зробити, пороти, колоти, стиснути, замкнути, розчервонітися, зажуритися;

б) вітати, говорити, казати, просити, грюкати, приносити, прочитати, подумати, оглянути, підбігти, думати, терпіти, гурко­тати, задивлятися, посміхатися.


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