Using the Gerund in English
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Using the Gerund in English

how the gerund is used in the English language

The gerund in English is used to relate an activity and that activity can be a verb an adjective or an noun and this may create confusion for the learner. Other languages like French do not have this grammatical form. Instead you would use other words to relate that the person is in the process of doing something.

If the gerund is used as an adjective it describes a noun just as any other adjective would but it tends to relate the activity that is associated with the object it describes. So a hiking trail is one that sports people would use for the sport of hiking. A skating rink is an enclosed stretch of ice, which has been set aside for the activity of skating. It does not mean that people have to be hiking on the trail or skating on the ice for you to use the gerund adjectives. It just related the activity that those areas are destined for.

A gerund can start a sentence and as such the person may be surprised because he is used to using it in the present progressive and nowhere else. If one starts by saying that refunding occurs when someone asks for his money back, then the refunding is not describing anything and is not meant as an action in itself because the verb is occurs. Instead it would be a gerund noun and acts as a subject for the sentence. It is an abstract noun at that. If the gerund were to describe a word at the beginning of the sentence as in ”hiking trails are for sports people”, then the word hiking as mentioned before is a gerund adjective.

Gerunds are commonly used as part of the present or past progressive tenses but they are also found in the future progressive tense, the present perfect continuous and the past perfect continuous. These tenses would relate some form of progression in the present, future or past sometimes-in relation to another activity. Present continuous is the most common where a person is occupied doing an action at the moment he is expressing himself or he refers to someone else who is in the process of doing an activity. Naturally it is conjugated with the various voices and is constant for all of them in the present progressive tense. In the beginning this is the best way to learn the gerund as in “I am going, you are going, he is going” and so on.

The present progressive using the gerund is sometimes confused with the present simple tense because the language learner may think that he he doing something progressive when he does something on a regular basis or as a rule. It is then that the language coach has to remind the learner that this gerund verb participle not to be confused with something that is not happening at the moment the speaker is talking.

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