What is a gerund phrase?
Though the term might sound a bit intimidating, it really is simple. Here, we’ll take a close look at gerund phrases and provide several examples so you can easily recognize them and use them to create interesting sentences.
Decoding the Gerund Phrase
Time for a quick refresher: A gerund is a noun formed with a verb ending in ing. Words like swimming, tying, dreaming, eating, fishing, and drinking can all be used as gerunds.
Now that we’ve refreshed your memory, let’s take a look at the gerund phrase. A gerund phrase always follows these rules:
- Gerund phrases always start with gerunds
- Gerund phrases always include modifiers and often include other objects
- A gerund phrase always functions as a noun
- Gerund phrases are always subjects, objects, or subject complements in sentences.
Gerund Phrase Examples
In the following gerund phrase examples, the gerund is highlighted in bold and the entire gerund phrase is underlined. A brief explanation of the function of the gerund phrase follows each example.
- Blowing bubbles on a windy day is a fun activity for children.
Blowing bubbles on a windy day is the subject of the verb is.
- Piling too much laundry into a washing machine will cause it to malfunction.
Piling too much laundry into a washing machine is the subject of the verb will cause.
- Ethan narrowly avoided driving off the cliff.
Driving off the cliff is the direct object of the verb avoided.
- Eating ice cream on a hot day can be a good way to cool off.
Eating ice cream on a hot day is the subject of the verb can be.
- Jessica really enjoys bothering the neighbors with loud music.
Bothering the neighbors with loud music is the direct object of the verb enjoys.
Gerund Phrase Exercises
Identify the gerund phrase in each of the following sentences:
- Eating strawberries without washing them might make you sick.
A – might make you sick, B – eating strawberries C – Eating strawberries without washing them
- They were painting their house when it started to rain.
A – painting their house, B – they were painting, C – when it started to rain
- I’ve been thinking about going shopping on Saturday.
A – I’ve been thinking, B – about going shopping, C- going shopping on Saturday
- Jennifer is always baking something in the kitchen.
A – baking something, B – Baking something in the kitchen, C – Jennifer is always baking something
- Thanks for taking off your shoes before coming in the house.
A – taking off your shoes, B – coming in the house, C- Both A and B
- Jill is playing the violin with the bow Jerry bought her when they went to Italy.
A – playing the violin, B – playing the violin with the bow Jerry bought her, C – Jill is playing the violin
- The kids were excited about eating birthday cake.
A – the kids were excited, B – about eating, C – eating birthday cake
- He was taking a picture when lightning struck.
A – he was taking a picture, B – lightning struck, C – taking a picture
- Please stop texting; you’re going to cause an accident.
A – you’re going to cause, B – please stop texting, C – going to cause an accident
Answer Key: 1: C, 2: A, 3: C, 4: B, 5: C, 6: B, 7: C, 8: C, 9: C, 10: A