The Gerund Phrase
Recognize a gerund phrase when you find one.
A gerund phrase will begin with a gerund, an ing word, and will include modifiers and/or objects. Gerund phrases, which always function as nouns, will be subjects, subject complements, or objects in the sentence.
Read these examples:
Eating ice cream on a windy day can be a messy experience if you have long, untamed hair.
Eating ice cream on a windy day = subject of the linking verb can be.
A more disastrous activity for long-haired people is blowing giant bubble gum bubbles with the car windows down.
Blowing giant bubble gum bubbles with the car windows down = subject complement of the verb is.
Wild food adventures require getting your hair cut to a short, safe length.
Do not confuse a gerund phrase with a present participle phrase.
Gerund and present participle phrases are easy to confuse because they both begin with an ing word. The difference is that a gerund phrase will always function as a noun while a present participle phrase functions as an adjective.
Consider these examples:
Jamming too much clothing into a washing machine will cause a disaster.
Jamming too much clothing into the washing machine, Aamir saved $1.25 but had to tolerate the curious stares of other laundry patrons as his machine bucked and rumbled with the heavy load.
Jamming too much clothing into the washing machine = present participle phrase describing Aamir.
Bernard hates buttering toast with a fork.
Buttering toast with a fork = gerund phrase, the direct object of the action verb hates.
Buttering toast with a fork, Bernard vowed that he would finally wash the pile of dirty dishes in the sink.
Buttering toast with a fork = present participle phrase describing Bernard.
My dog's most annoying habit is hogging the middle of the bed.
Last night I had to sleep on the couch because I found my dog Floyd hogging the middle of the bed.
Hogging the middle of the bed = present participle phrase describing Floyd.
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