A gerund is a verbal that uses the present participle of a verb (the ing form) but acts as a noun. It can act as a subject, a subject complement, a direct object, an indirect object, or an object of a preposition.
Reading is my favorite activity. (gerund as a subject)
Julie's best subject is writing. (gerund as a subject complement)
Carlos really enjoys biking. (gerund as a direct object)
Maria gives singing all her attention. (gerund as an indirect object)
I got this bruise from fencing. (gerund as the object of a preposition)
Watch out for present participles used as participles (adjectives).
Participle: Let's meet at the bowling alley. (Bowling describes alley.) Gerund: On the weekends, I go bowling. (Bowling is acting as a noun.)
A gerund phrase is the gerund plus its object and modifiers.
Reading mystery novels is my favorite activity. (gerund phrase as a subject)
Julie's best subject is creative writing. (gerund phrase as a subject complement)
Carlos really enjoys biking through the mountains. (gerund phrase as a direct object)
I got this bruise from fencing with my instructor. (gerund phrase as the object of a preposition)
If you're not sure if a word or phrase is a gerund, replace it with the word something. Since a gerund is a noun, replacing it with a pronoun should work.
Playing the banjo is a skill I am learning. Something is a skill I am learning.
Note: Because a gerund is a noun, it requires a possessive noun or pronoun before it.
Johnny'sswimming has improved this last year. Not:Johnnyswimming has improved this last year.
I think that ourswimming will be even better next year. Not: I think that usswimming will be even better next year.
Practice What You've Learned
Click on the gerund(s) in each sentence. Make sure not to click on participles used as adjectives or as part of verb phrases.
Click on all the words in the gerund phrase(s) in each sentence.