Gerunds, Infinitives and Participles
There are certain applications of nouns which may sound like verbs, but actually function as nouns. These are called “verbals” or verbal nouns. They are gerunds, infinitives, and participles. Let’s discuss them here.
A gerund is a verbal that ends with “-ing” and functions as a noun. The word “-ing” is attached is a verb, but the application is such that the total word becomes a noun.
Compare the following sentences
1. Roma is painting.
2. Roma’s hobby is painting.
In the first sentence, the word “painting” is clearly the main verb in the sentence and is talking about the action of painting. But in the second sentence, the word “painting” is treated as the name of Roma’s hobby.
So if we were to construct questions in such a manner that the sentences mentioned above become answers to them, they questions will be −
1. What is Roma doing?
2. What is Roma’s hobby?
As you can see, the first question asks for the action (What is Roma doing?), but the second question asks for the name of Roma’s hobby (What is Roma’s hobby?). In the second sentence, the action becomes the noun.
- Traveling is good for the mind. (Gerund — traveling)
- They complimented me on my singing. (Gerund — singing)
- His favorite hobby is sleeping. (Gerund — sleeping)
- He has been booked for drunk driving. (Gerund — drunk driving)
A gerund phrase is a group of words that function as a gerund. In the following sentences, the underlined phrases are gerund phrases−
- Climbing Mount Everest is easier than what we are climbing right now.
- Talking to my dog is more soothing to me than having a bowl of ice-cream.
A gerund cannot be used in a sentence that doesn’t have a main verb and the gerunds never use punctuations.
An infinitive is a verbal noun that functions either as a noun, adjective, or adverb and is formed by adding “to” + a verb in its simple form.
Compare the following sentences
- Hari hates to wait.
- Hari likes to paint.
In these two sentences, you can see that the main verbs are “hates, likes” but the parts “to wait, to paint” are infinitives.
The gerund form of both the sentences −
- Hari hates waiting.
- Hari like painting.
In other words, taking away the “-ing” part of a gerund and adding a “to” before it makes it an infinitive.
If the infinitive or infinitive phrase is used in the beginning of a sentence, it uses a comma.
- To arrive on time, Hari took the metro.
- To master your aim, you must practice daily.
A participle is a verbal that is used as an adjective and uses either “-ing”, “-ed”, “-en”, “-d”, “-t”, “-n”, or “-ne" as per the root word.
A participial phrase is a group of words consisting of a participle and nouns or pronouns that together function as participles −
- Removing her shoes, Jill jumped into the river.
- Delia noticed her dog running along the road
If a sentence begins with a participial phrase, a comma should be placed after the phrase. Also, a participial phrase must be placed as close to the noun it describes, to prevent confusion.
- While talking to Rohan, I smiled at Tota.
- I smiled at Tota, while talking to Rohan.
In these sentences, it’s not clear who is talking to Rohan if we miss the commas, hence when it comes to participial phrases, we need to use it as close to the noun that is doing the action.