Gerunds, Participles, and Infinitives

Gerund Infinitive and Participle

Words are divided into different categories depending on their use and function. These categories are what we like to call the parts of speech. There are eight parts of speech in the English language: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections. Today, we’ll actually be talking about gerunds, participles, and infinitives. Now, you’re probably wondering how those are related to the parts of speech, right? Well, for the sake of understanding these concepts, just think of those three as various ways in which the different parts of speech can be used. In other words, the main parts of speech are your tools, and our three topics for today are the projects you need the tools for.

Gerund

A gerund is a word that is created with a verb but functions as a noun, always ending in -ing. Being used as a noun, a gerund can function as a subject, a subject complement, a direct object, an indirect object, or an object of a preposition. It’s important to note that though gerunds may look a lot like present participles, they are not the same thing. Gerunds are specifically placed in the noun position of a sentence whereas present participles are placed with the verb phrase, usually as modifiers.

Here is an example of a gerund in the subject position:

Brushing your hair prevents it from tangling.

In this sentence, the word brushing is the gerund functioning as the subject of the sentence. If a gerund were to be the complement of a subject in a sentence, it would look like this:

Her number one priority is working.

Working is functioning as a complement to the subject, priority.

Gerunds can also function as the object of a sentence. Here’s an example where the gerund is the object of a preposition:

“There is no use in standing in line for three hours,” grandma said.

In this sentence, standing follows the preposition in, making it the object of the preposition.

Participles

Very similar to gerunds are participles. Participles are words created from verbs that are then used as adjectives to modify nouns in a sentence. They can also be used as introductions to adverbial phrases. There are present and past participles. Present participles always end in -ing and correlate to events taking place in the current tense. The past participle can be either regular or irregular and refers to events that have already happened. Differentiating between participles and gerunds can be a little tricky sometimes because participles can actually function as gerunds. For our purposes today, we’re going to look at some rather straightforward examples.

When using a participle as an adjective, you might come across a sentence like this:

The browning fruit should be put outside for composting.

Browning is a present participle (noted by the -ing ending) that is modifying the noun fruit.

I spent the whole day studying math.

In this sentence, studying is a present participle that is working as the beginning of an adverbial phrase in the sentence. The phrase studying math is modifying the verb spent. How did I spend the whole day? Studying math.

Both of those examples were present participles, meaning the words ended in -ing­ to denote something happening in the current time. As mentioned, there are such things as past participles. Past participles can have varied word endings (depending on the word being used). Most commonly, you will see -d­ or -ed added to the end of a word. Let’s look at a couple of examples:

The windows were cracked when the rainstorm came through.

Here, the word cracked is the past participle working as an adjective to modify the noun windows.

He continued forward, cautioned by the desolate streets.

Cautioned is the past participle in the sentence functioning as the beginning of an adverbial phrase describing the word continued.

Additionally, participles can also appear as multi-part verbs. The multi- comes from attaching an auxiliary verb or helping verb to the main verb being used in the sentence.

Joan was baking fresh cookies for her grandkids.

Helping verb: was
Participle: baking

This combination creates a multi-part verb.

Joan has been baking all morning.

Helping verb: has been
Participle: baking

Joan would have been reading all morning if her grandkids hadn’t said they were coming over.

Helping verb: would have been
Participle: reading

Knowing how to form different endings of the participles allows for a variety of meanings to be conveyed.

Infinitives

Unlike gerunds and participles, infinitives do not change their endings; they are always in the simple, singular form.

Infinitives are singular verbs usually preceded by the word to. They do not have any special suffixes; they’re just simple in nature. In other words, the verbs are unconjugated. Infinitives can be used as a noun, an adjective, or an adverb. Most likely when you are dealing with infinitives, you will be dealing with the present infinitive; that’s what we’ll be looking at today. The to is used with the infinitive to show the purpose of something or maybe to express someone’s opinion. Let’s look at some examples of infinitives!

Noun: Josh wants to study as soon as he gets home from school.

Adjective: Today, she wants to show Josh a new game to play.

Adverb: Josh played the new game with his sister instead of studying, to make her happy.

We’ve discussed quite a bit today. Remember, gerunds are words that are formed from verbs and used as nouns, always ending in -ing; participles are words created from verbs that can be used as adjectives or in adverbial phrases, also ending in -ing (unless expressing past tense); and infinitives are verbs that take the simple tense and follow the preposition to.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this lesson on the parts of speech. Until next time!

Practice Questions

Question #1:

 
Which of the following sentences includes a gerund?

Kayla and Jack ran several errands after school yesterday.

Walking a little every morning can boost your productivity during the day.

I noticed she was waiting for the bus to arrive.

Can everyone please stop shouting and running around?

Answer:

In this sentence, the word walking is a verb that functions as a noun, which means it is a gerund. Remember, a gerund always ends with -ing. The words waiting (answer choice C), shouting, and running (both answer choice D) are simply verbs that are functioning as verbs.

Question #2:

 
Which of the following sentences includes a gerund?

Has anyone been making any progress in their English class?

Kaylee was known for running long distances at rapid speeds.

My absolute favorite pastime is swimming.

I will probably be eating tacos for dinner tonight.

Answer:

In this case, the word swimming is a gerund, which is functioning as a complement to the subject, pastime. The words ending with -ing found in the other answer choices are simply verbs.

Question #3:

 
Which word in the following sentence is a gerund? (Select all that apply)

Standing in this line at the donut shop is ruining my chances of getting to work on time.

Ruining

Standing

Getting

There is no gerund

Answer:

The word standing is functioning as the subject of the sentence, while getting is functioning as the object of the preposition of. The word ruining is simply the verb in this case.

Question #4:

 
Which word in the following sentence is a gerund? (Select all that apply)

Kayante was typing at a much faster rate than his classmates, which meant he would likely finish his essay long before everyone else.

Typing

Meant

Would finish

There is no gerund

Answer:

Remember, a gerund will always end with -ing, so the only answer choice that could be a gerund is choice A. However, since the verb typing is functioning as a verb, it is not a gerund.

Question #5:

 
Which part of the sentence is the gerund in the following sentence?

The teacher sent him to detention for cheating.

Object of the preposition

Subject

Indirect object

Direct object

Answer:

The gerund cheating is the object of the preposition for.

Question #6:

 
What part of speech is the participle in the following sentence?

He took a sewing class during his freshman year at the community college.

Noun

Adjective

Verb

There is no participle

Answer:

In this case, the participle is sewing, which is functioning as an adjective modifying the noun class.

Question #7:

 
What part of speech is the participle in the following sentence?

Ivan was talking very loudly to his friends during class yesterday.

Adjective

Adverb

Verb

There is no participle

Answer:

In this case, the participle is talking, which pairs up with the verb was to form the present participle phrase was talking. This participle phrase functions as the verb of the sentence.

Question #8:

 
What part of speech is the participle in the following sentence?

The entire afternoon was spent shopping at the mall.

Adjective

Noun

Adverb

There is no participle

Answer:

In this case, the participle is shopping, which is functioning as an adverb modifying the verb was spent.

Question #9:

 
What part of speech is the participle in the following sentence?

I raced past several tourists as I biked along the hiking trail.

Noun

Adverb

Verb

There is no participle

Answer:

Though there are two verbs in this sentence, they are both simply action verbs, not participles.

Question #10:

 
What part of speech is the participle in the following sentence?

Baking bread has become her new favorite hobby.

Noun

Adverb

Verb

There is no participle

Answer:

In this case, the participle is baking, which is functioning as the subject of the sentence (a noun). When a participle functions as a noun, it is called a gerund.

Question #11:

 
What part of speech is the infinitive functioning as in the following sentence?

Sean needs to work through the summer so he can save up some money.

Noun

Adjective

Adverb

There is no infinitive

Answer:

The infinitive in this sentence is to work, which is functioning as a noun. Specifically, the infinitive has taken the role of the direct object, taking the action of the verb needs.

Question #12:

 
What part of speech is the infinitive functioning as in the following sentence?

After the argument, both James and Kadin apologized to each other.

Noun

Adjective

Adverb

There is no infinitive

Answer:

Although the word to is used in the sentence, it is not followed by a verb, so there is no infinitive. In this case, the word to is being used as a preposition.

Question #13:

 
What part of speech is the infinitive functioning as in the following sentence?

She told us that George Orwell’s 1984 is her favorite book to read during her free time.

Noun

Adjective

Adverb

There is no infinitive

Answer:

The infinitive in this sentence, to read, is functioning as an adjective describing the noun book.

Question #14:

 
What part of speech is the infinitive functioning as in the following sentence?

I will be practicing for two hours every day to ensure I play my recital piece well.

Noun

Adjective

Adverb

There is no infinitive

Answer:

The infinitive in this sentence, to ensure, is functioning as an adverb modifying the verb practicing.

Question #15:

 
What part of speech is the infinitive functioning as in the following sentence?

To fly high above the trees was Rachel’s greatest wish as a child.

Noun

Adjective

Adverb

There is no infinitive

Answer:

The infinitive in this sentence is to fly, which is functioning as a noun. Specifically, the infinitive has taken the role of the subject of the sentence.

634263

 

by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: June 24, 2021