Gerunds: Nouning a Verb

Remember when I got up on my soapbox and ranted about “verbing a noun”?

(Bad Example: trialed)

Well, today I plan to talk about nouning a verb, which is perfectly copacetic.

(Word of the day: copacetic = satisfactory, acceptable)

In fact, they have an official word for “nouning a verb”: gerund.

Most gerunds end in -ing; hence, verbing and nouning could be gerunds if they were real words.

My personal motto is made up of three gerunds:

“Learning, loving, serving.” I figure a life spent doing these three things would be a life well spent.

These gerunds are nouns just like “Truth, justice, and the American way.”

A gerund differs from a present participle in that it acts as a noun, performing as a subject or object of the sentence.


Learning can be fun. (subject)

I have always liked learning. (direct object)

Present participles generally have some form of the verb “to be” in front of it:

… is learning, are learning, were learning, have been learning.

These are verbs; they are not acting as nouns, therefore they are not gerunds.

Because a gerund acts as a noun, it can have a possessive pronoun in front of it.

I could have used a gerund in yesterday’s tip:

“I thought my being a cheerleader would make me popular.”

“Being” is the gerund here. Note that this doesn’t say “me being a cheerleader…”

Here’s another example of a possessive pronoun in front of a gerund:

I’m sorry about your having to wait for an hour.

Gerunds can also be the object of a preposition:

The course was about drilling in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.

The purchase order for completing the water treatment plant was finally approved.

So don’t be afraid of nouning a verb – just do it correctly!


2 Responses to “Gerunds: Nouning a Verb”

  1. New Words, Wrong Words | Technical Writing Tips for the Oil Patch Says:

    […] Let’s start out with some words I ran across that are not actual words.-       Remediative – Here somebody was trying to make an adjective out of the verb “to remediate,” but if you look in the dictionary, “remediative” is not there. The correct adjective is “remedial,” which means “intended as a remedy” or a corrective treatment, which is what the writer meant.-       Stickance – Here somebody was trying to “noun a verb.” If your drilling assembly sticks in the hole, it’s called “sticking,” which is a gerund (the official way to noun a verb). See my previous post on gerunds at: […]

  2. Sherlyn Says:

    Excellent article! We will be linking to this particularly great
    post on our website. Keep up the good writing.

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