Gerunds, Participles, and Infinitives
Gerunds, Infinitives, and Participles are all types of verbs. A gerund is a verb that ends with -ing (such as dancing, flying, etc.), that functions as a noun. An infinitive is a verb that is preceded by the word “to” (such as to run, to fly, to play, etc.). A participle also ends in -ing like a gerund, but it does not function as a noun. Instead, they form the progressive tense of a verb. They can sometimes function as an adjective, but not always.
Gerunds, Participles, and Infinitives
Gerund, infinitive, and participle. These are all different forms of verbs. A gerund is a verb ending in -ing that is used as a noun in a sentence. There are a lot of times when you’ll see a noun that is actually a verb form. “We admired the vocalist’s singing.” In this sentence, they were admiring the vocalist’s singing.
They were admiring something, which makes this a noun. “Singing” is also a verb, so this is a gerund. It is a verb used as a noun in this sentence. “Running is my favorite hobby.” “Running” is also a verb, but in this sentence “running” is the noun. This is my favorite hobby. “Running” is a gerund in this sentence.
Infinitive is a singular verb preceded by the word “to”, which is considered the base or unconjugated form of the word.Let’s look at some examples. “She loves to sing.” This is the infinitive form of the verb “sing”. It isn’t conjugated. It hasn’t been changed to past tense. It hasn’t had a suffix added to it yet. It’s got the word “to” in front of it, so it is an infinitive. “She loves to sing.” “I love to run.” If you see a verb that has the word “to” in front of it, it’s a good chance that that’s in the infinitive form of that verb.
Participles are verbs that end in -ing, like gerunds, and form the progressive tense of the verb. Participles are not used as nouns. That’s the difference between the gerund and the participle. A gerund is going to be used as a noun in this sentence, and a participle is not. “The sleeping baby is snoring.” “Sleeping” is a participle. It has the -ing ending, and it’s used in the sentence to let you know the baby is sleeping, but it doesn’t say “the baby is sleeping”. “The running motor sounds loud.” “Running” is also a verb, but in this sentence, it’s got the -ing and it isn’t used as a verb. “The running motor” let’s you know the motor’s running, but it doesn’t say “the motor is running”. The verb in this sentence is “sounds”. “Running” and “sleeping” act more as adjectives in this sentence.
Not all participles are going to act as adjectives, but they are going to end and -ing and are going to tell you what’s going on with the noun in this sentence without actually behaving as the verb in that sentence. Whenever you’re reading and you’re trying to figure out parts of speech in certain sentences, look to see if you see gerunds, infinitives, or participles. If you know a word is a gerund then you’ll say, “Oh, I know this word is a verb that’s used as a noun.” If you see a noun being used as a verb, you can say, “Oh, this is a gerund.” Knowing those things can help you finish diagramming the rest of the sentence.
If you know that one word, even though it looks like a verb, is a noun, then you will be able to find your actual verb, such as “is”. “Is” is a being verb, which may not be as easy to identify since it isn’t an action verb. Don’t be confused by the fact that “running” is an action and “is” is just this little begin verb. For infinitives, make sure that you’re watching for that clue word “to”. If you see “to” before a verb, then you’re probably looking at the infinitive form.
In participles, look for the -ing ending where the verb is not being used as a verb in that sentence. It’s being used as an adjective or some other word and you actually have a different verb. It’s going to end in -ing but not behave as a noun. When diagramming sentences, it’s going to be important that you can tell the difference between a noun, a verb, and an adjective. Sometimes verbs look like other things, even though it’s going to look like a verb, it’s going to behave like a noun or going to behave like an adjective. Just pay close attention, because verbs are not always going to behave like verbs.
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Last updated: 04/27/2018
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