An Introduction to Using Gerunds

Close up of female tennis player preparing to serve
Les and Dave Jacobs/ Cultura/ Getty Images

A gerund is a verb that typically functions as a noun or as the direct object of another verb. Generally speaking, creating a gerund is as easy as adding "ing" to the base form of the verb. There are some exceptions, however. 

  • For one-syllable verbs ending with a consonant: Double the final consonant before adding "ing." For example: dig/digging,  put/putting, plan/planning. For words longer than one syllable, there is usually no need to double the final consonant. (Exception: begin - beginning).
  • For verbs ending in "e": Drop the vowel before add "ing." For example: write/writing, take/taking, bake/baking.
  • For verbs ending in "ie": Replace the vowels with "y" before adding "ing." For example: die/dying, lie/lying.


When acting as a noun, a gerund often is at the beginning of a sentence. For example:

Playing tennis takes lots of physical and mental skill.

Going to church is an important part of many people's lives.

Thinking about vacation makes me happy!

Object of a Verb

Many verbs often combine with a second verb in the gerund form. The second verb in the gerund is the object of the verb.

Mary enjoys watching TV late at night.

Alan admits cheating on the last test.

Susan imagines having children later in her life.

There are many verbs that are always followed by the gerund form. Here are some of the most important:

  • admit
  • advise
  • avoid
  • consider
  • delay
  • deny
  • discuss
  • enjoy
  • finish
  • keep
  • postpone
  • recommend
  • regret
  • risk
  • suggest
  • tolerate

Phrasal Verbs

Gerunds are used with phrasal verbs that end in prepositions. Phrasal verbs are verb phrases which are made up of two or more words, generally the verb plus one or two prepositions. Here are some of the most common:

  • bring about
  • call off
  • check into
  • cut out
  • figure out
  • get over
  • look into
  • put off
  • take over


The coach called off practicing for the day.

Tom looked into finding a new job.

She took a long time to get over losing her dog.


Gerunds also follow common adjective/preposition combinations. Remember that prepositions are always followed by the gerund form. Here are some of the most common:

  • accustomed to
  • afraid of
  • bored with
  • concerned about
  • convinced of
  • dedicated to
  • disappointed in
  • exposed to
  • filled with
  • guilty of
  • innocent of
  • interested in
  • known for
  • proud of
  • remembered for
  • scared of
  • tired of
  • upset with
  • worried about


She's interested in taking French lessons.

The man was found guilty of committing the crime.

Tom is proud of donating his free time to the charity.

Object of a Preposition

When followed by a verb, prepositions always take the gerund form. Here are some examples:

Peter arrived at work after fighting the morning rush hour traffic.

Are you able to remember all the facts without googling them?

She thinks Mary is against buying a new house.

Remember that prepositions are often the last word in phrasal verbs. For example:

Tim thought about buying a new car.

We are going to look into renting an apartment in Hawaii next summer.

I look forward to seeing you soon.

Subject Complement

Subject complements are used to define the subject with linking verbs such as "be," "seem" and "become." Here are some examples:

Her biggest wish in life is traveling around the world.

My intention is making sure you understand the gerund.

Her questions seem to wait for answers.

Negative Gerunds

Making a gerund negative is easy. Just add "not" before the gerund. Here are examples of each type of gerund use using the gerund in the negative form.

Not wanting anything in life can make you very happy.

Alison enjoys not eating fatty food, and she's lost a lot of weight.

I look forward to not working on my vacation.

A Word of Caution

The gerund is often confused with the present participle. That's because the gerund looks exactly like the present participle; they both are formed by adding "ing" to the verb. Look at how the word is being used in the sentence; if it's functioning as a noun, it's a gerund. 

Present Continuous Verb: We're waiting for the bus.
Gerund as Subject: Waiting for the bus is boring.
Present Perfect Verb: I have been working on the project for two years.
Gerund as Object of Preposition: I look forward to working on the project.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Beare, Kenneth. "An Introduction to Using Gerunds." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, Beare, Kenneth. (2020, August 26). An Introduction to Using Gerunds. Retrieved from Beare, Kenneth. "An Introduction to Using Gerunds." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 22, 2023).