Craft Monday: Demystifying gerunds…Wait. What?

Have you ever puzzled over the definition of a part of speech?  I have. It seems the farther I get from Mrs. Schilling’s 7th grade English class, the more foreign phrases like “split infinitive” become. So every once in a while we’ll tackle those funny-sounding parts of speech…just to keep you (and me!) on our toes.

This week’s craft topic is quick and easy–a definition. The gerund.

What the heck is a “gerund” you ask? It’s a verb (action word) that acts like a noun (a thing…sort of…that can be the subject of the sentence, the complement or the object).

Example:

Run — a verb, clearly describing action. I like to run every morning. (For sake of transparency, that’s a complete fabrication–I loathe running–but the sentence serves my purpose.)

Oh! Did you catch what just happened? I just used “run” and added “ing” to form the object of my action.

My action = loathe.gerund

The object of my action (what do I loathe?) = running!

Simple, right?

We can get fancier, too, and incorporate gerunds into entire phrases.

Staying with the “run” example:

Running is my least favorite physical activity! (Well, next to rope-climbing, but that’s another story.) In this example, running is the object of the verb “is.”

Confused? Try reorganizing the words:  My least favorite physical activity is running. See? Easy!

You might not have heard the term “gerund” before, but I’m certain you’ve used gerunds and gerund phrases every day in speech and in writing.

Want more? Check out Grammar Girl’s take on the gerund. She gets into present participles, but I’ve saved those for another day.

Do you have any parts of speech that stump you just by name? If so, drop a comment below and we’ll try to help.

Happy reading, happy writing!

Leah

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After spending her life working with words in various roles in both government and the private sector, including a 10-year stint as a freelance line editor, lifelong grammar fanatic Leah Price is excited about putting her skills and knowledge to work in the publishing industry as author liaison for Edward Allen Publishing. She also writes commercial fiction under a pseudonym and knows how tough it is to get all the pieces in the story puzzle to fit, but she loves the journey.