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Gerund functions

Are you FOR or AGAINST the restoration of the West Pier?

Constructions followed y the !erund"
It isn't worth _______ ing .......
It's a waste of time _______ ing .....
It's no good ______ ing .......
It's no use _______ing .....
Infiniti#e constructions"
The structure is too weak to repair.
The woodwork is too rotten to maintain.
The iron is too corroded to last another 100 years.
The pavilion is too delapidated to restore.
Constructions followed y the !erund"
It's well worth _______ ing .......
Passi#e constructions"
The wood can be replaced.
The iron-work can be painted with anti-corrosive paint.
The pavilion can be repaired.
There are many %n!lish words indicatin! &renewal&' which are commonly used
in $assi#e constructions"
Pre$are your ar!uments and use them to say which side you
are on(
!ote "1# The $asue %erund
by &arry Trask
Larry Trask, a world expert on Basque linguistics and the history of the Basque language, passed
away on March 28, 2004 Larry contri!uted extensi"ely to se"eral onlineco##unities, including
Basque$L and the %ndoeuropean listThis collection of his postings is dedicated in his #e#ory
$asue has a very prominent verb-form called the gerund. The gerund plays a central role in the
synta' of the modern language( but its form is not everywhere the same. )everal suffi'es are
used to form the gerund#
<-te>, as in <Zuk hori egitea nahi dut>
<-tze>, as in <Zu hona etortzea nahi dut>
In most dialects( we find both *-te+ and *-t,e+( with a small difference in use. The suffi' *-te+
is used with verbs ending in *-n+( as in *egitea+ above( from *egin+( and with verbs whose
stems end in a sibilant( as in *-uk hori ikustea nahi dut+( from *ikusi+( stem *ikus-+. The suffi'
*-t,e+ is used with all other verbs( as in *etort,ea+ above.
In $i,kaian( *-te+ is generally preferred with all verbs( and it is usually added to the participle(
rather than to the stem( producing forms like *artutea+ for common *hart,ea+.
In .oncalese( the suffi' used is *-ta+( which may perhaps be a variant form of *-te+. /e also
find *-ta+ sometimes in $i,kaian( but here it seems to be clearly only a variant of *-te+.
In the west of %ipu,koa( the suffi' used is( or at least was in 0,kue's day( *-keta+( producing
forms like *ikusketa+ for common *ikustea+.
!ow( this regional variation in formation suggests that the gerund is not particularly ancient in
$asue( and that it has developed in somewhat different ways in the several dialects. 1oreover(
we can probably identify the sources of the several suffi'es.
$asue has a noun-forming suffi' *-te+( which most commonly e'presses duration( as in
*eurite+ 'rainy spell' and *gosete+ 'famine'. It also has a noun-forming suffi' *-t,a+ 2 *-t,e+(
which has several functions but often e'presses abundance( as in *3endet,a+ 2 *3endet,e+
'crowd( multitude' and *dirut,a+ 2 *dirut,e+ 'wealth( riches'. 0nd( of course( it has a very
freuent noun-forming suffi' *-keta+( which again has several functions but most commonly
e'presses activity( as in *,e,enketa+ 'bull-running' and *hi,keta+ 'conversation'( though it can
also e'press abundance( as in *3endeketa+ 'crowd'.
)ome years ago I proposed that these three noun-forming suffi'es were the sources of the three
suffi'es forming gerunds. The semantics looks good( since 'duration'( 'abundance' and 'activity'
are all plausible meanings for creating nominali,ed forms of verbs.
1oreover( all three of these suffi'es( apart from forming gerunds( can also be added to verb-
stems to produce ordinary nouns. Take *egin+( for e'ample. This gives rise to a derived noun
*egite+ 'deed'( as in *aitaren egite i,ugarriak+ '4ather's terrible deeds'. 5ere *egite+ is not a
gerund at all( but 3ust a plain old noun( behaving like any other noun( and showing no verbal
properties. In contrast( in *0itak hori egitea nahi dut+ 'I want 4ather to do that'( we have a
gerund( a verb-form( showing typical verbal properties such as taking a suitably case-marked
sub3ect 6*aitak+7 and a suitably case-marked ob3ect 6*hori+7.
I conclude( therefore( that the three noun-forming suffi'es were first added to verb-stems in
order to derive simple nouns( but that these verbal nouns gradually came to be re-analy,ed as
verb-forms( and therefore acuired the verbal properties they have today -- even though verbal
nouns like *egite+ continue to e'ist in the language.
)upport for this interpretation comes from the northern dialects( in which the gerunds are still not
uite entirely verbal today. 0s is well known( a northerner says *0itaren ikusterat noa+ instead
of *0ita ikustera noa+( with genitive *aitaren+( as though *ikustera6t7+( a case-marked form of
the gerund( were an ordinary noun( reuiring a genitive( and unable to take an ob3ect.
Today( the gerund always takes the article *-a+. $ut clearly this was not always so( since the
imperfective participle is constructed by adding locative *-n+ directly to the gerund( without the
article. )o( modern $asue( from *heldu+ 'arrive'( forms an imperfective participle *helt,en+
'arriving'( as well as a locative form *helt,ean+ 'on arriving' from the gerund *helt,ea+.
8riginally( *helt,en da+ must have been 9*helt,e-n da+ 'he is at arriving'.
0ll of this is astonishingly similar to the history of the :nglish gerund. /e form our gerunds in
*-ing+( as in ';eliberately tripping an opponent is a foul'. This gerund( like every gerund( is a
verb-form( showing typical verbal properties( such as taking an ob3ect and an adverb. 0nd we
know where this gerund came from.
The %ermanic languages have a noun-forming suffi' of the original form 9*-ung+. This suffi'
still e'ists in %erman today( in nouns like *5offnung+ 'hope'. In :nglish( the suffi' developed to
*-ing+( but it long remained only a noun-forming suffi'. It still is today in many cases# 'sacking'
6material for making sacks7( 'roofing' 6material for making roofs7('bedding' 6stuff put on a bed7(
and so on.
!ow( many centuries ago( :nglish had lots of grammatical endings( and these endings usually
marked parts of speech uite clearly. $ut then these endings gradually disappeared. 0s a result( it
is now impossible to tell whether an :nglish word is a noun or a verb 3ust by looking at it.
<onseuently( :nglish-speakers began to reanaly,e the nouns in *-ing+. :ven though 'lighting'(
for e'ample( is historically derived from the 9noun9 'light'( it now looks as though it might be
derived from the 9verb9 'light'. 0ccordingly( we began sticking *-ing+ onto verbs to make verbal
nouns. /e still do this( too. 4or e'ample( in 'the hunting of the snark' or in 'the deliberate
tripping of an opponent'( the words 'hunting' and 'tripping' are 3ust plain nouns( not verbs. These
things can even be plurali,ed when the sense permits( as in 'comings and goings'.
$ut then( like the $asues( we began re-analy,ing these forms as verb-forms( and treating them
like verbs. 0nd( like the northern $asues( we still have not gone uite all the way with this.
<onservative :nglish reuires a gerund to take a genitive sub3ect( as in 'I don't like his driving so
fast'. This traditional form is now giving way to a form with no genitive# =I don't like him driving
so fast'. This new form is now almost universal in $ritain( though the older form still
predominates in the >)0.
0nd we obtained our imperfective 6=present=7 participle in much the same way as the $asues.
0t first we used verbal nouns in *-ing+ merely as nouns. These nouns occurred after the
preposition 'on' in sentences like this one# '5e is on sitting on the porch'. 5ere 'sitting' is still
clearly a noun. $ut then the preposition was weakened# '5e is a'sitting on the porch'. These forms
can still be heard today in the 0ppalachian 1ountains( and often in country music. $ut then( in
most varieties of :nglish( the preposition was lost altogether( producing the modern form# '5e is
sitting on the porch'. 0nd we now interpret forms like 'sitting' as ordinary verb-forms( not as
nouns# ')he is washing the car'. 6The old form would have been this# ')he is a'washing of the
)o( $asue and :nglish seem to have traveled down remarkably similar roads in acuiring their
modern gerunds and imperfective participles.
&arry Trask <8%) >niversity of )usse' $righton $!1 ?@5 >A
Tel# 601"BC7-DBED?C 6from >A7F GHH-1"BC-DBED?C 6from abroad7 4a'# 601"BC7-DB1C"0 6from
>A7F GHH-1"BC-DB1C"0 6from abroad
The $asues are a people whose homeland is the westernmost part of the Iyrenees 1ountains
and the immediately surrounding regions. This area comprises four provinces in )pain
6%uipu,coa( Ji,caya( 0lava( and !avarra7 and three provinces in the department of Iyrenees-
0tlantiue in 4rance 6)oule( &abourd( and $asse-!avarre7. Anown to the )panish as vascos and
to the 4rench as basues( the $asues call themselves :uskaldunak and their homeland :uskadi.
$asue speakers number about E?0(000 in )pain and E0(000 in 4rance 61?EB est.7( but a larger
number identify themselves as $asues in each country.
The origins of the $asues are still a mystery. Their language is unrelated to any Indo-:uropean
language. 0lthough they look much like their 4rench and )panish neighbors( $asues possess
the lowest freuency of blood-type $ and the highest freuencies of types 8 and .h-negative of
any population in :urope. They are staunchly .oman <atholic and noted for their distinctive
folklore( folk theater( games( music( and a light-footed( acrobatic form of dancing.
Traditionally a fiercely independent peasant and fishing people( they were known as early as the
1iddle 0ges as skilled boat makers and courageous whale hunters and cod fishermen who often
ranged far into the 0tlantic. Their characteristic settlement is the isolated farm. The growth of
villages is a relatively recent response to increased industry and trade in the $asue region.
0 large number of $asues have migrated to !orth and )outh 0merica. 5istorically( this
migration has been the result partly of adverse political circumstances 6most $asues opposed
the 4ranco regime in )pain7 and partly of the inheritance rule known as primogeniture( by which
the oldest son inherits the family farm. Kounger sons generally have either sought employment
in coastal settlements as industrial workers or fishermen( or they have migrated to the !ew
/orld( freuently finding work as sheepherders.
Isolated in their mountainous homeland( the $asues repulsed incursions by .omans( %ermanic
tribes( 1oors( and others until the 1B00s. They lost their autonomy in 4rance after the 4rench
.evolution 61BE?7 and in )pain by the early 1E00s. 0 movement for $asue separatism rose in
the 1?th and "0th centuries... )pain's $asues were granted home rule in 1?E0.
Taken from...
&o!ert T 'nderson
Bi!lio( Bi!liography( )lark, &o!ert *, The Basques +,-80./ 0ouglass, 1 ', ed, Basque
*olitics +,-82./ 3allop, &odney, The Book of the Basques +,-40/ repr ,-50./ 6ei!erg,
Marianne, The Making of the Basque 7ation +,-8-./ *ayne, 8 3, Basque 7ationalis# +,-52.
)opyright notice( )opyright !y 3rolier 9lectronic *u!lishing, %nc
!ote H# :dun( To 5ave
by &arry Trask
Larry Trask, a world expert on Basque linguistics and the history of the Basque language, passed
away on March 28, 2004 Larry contri!uted extensi"ely to se"eral onlineco##unities, including
Basque$L and the %ndoeuropean listThis collection of his postings is dedicated in his #e#ory
0 few comments on the old verb 9*edun+ 'have'.
This verb is nowhere recorded as its participle 6hence the asterisk7( or indeed as any non-finite
form at all( but its former e'istence is nonetheless certain.
6Interestingly( a gerund *edutea+ is recorded in one 1Eth-century inscriptionF this might be the
gerund of 9*edun+( but eually it might be the gerund of that verb's derivative *eduki+.7
The non-finite forms of 9*edun+ are supplied suppletively by *ukan+ in the east and by *i,an+
in the west. In the north( the finite forms of 9*edun+ are still the ordinary forms for e'pressing
'have'. In the south( the verb is now largely confined to elevated styles in this function( and 'have'
is commonly e'pressed instead by the derivative *eduki+. $ut( in all varieties( the finite forms of
9*edun+ still provide the indicative forms of the transitive au'iliary( like *dut+ and *du+.
/e can easily reconstruct the original present-tense forms of 9*edun+. 5ere they are#
1 Sg *<da-du-da>
2 Sg M *<da-du-ga>
2 Sg F *<da-du-na>, or possibly *<da-du-na-ga>
3 Sg *<da-du>
1 l *<da-du-gu>
2 l *<da-du-zu> !today a singular"
3 l *<da-du-te> !#ost $arieties", but *<da-du-e> !%izkaian"
5ere 9*da-+ is the old present-tense marker( 9*-du-+ is the root of the verb 9*edun+( and the
suffi'es mark agreement for person and number. )ome 6not all7 of these suffi'es are related to
the corresponding pronouns( of course. The third-singular agreement suffi' was ,ero( as is usual
in $asue. In the third plural( we find 9*-te+ in most dialects but 9*-e+ in $i,kaianF there is
reason to suppose that the $i,kaian form is older( but we lack the evidence to draw firm
These forms developed as follows in all dialects#
1 Sg *<daut>
2 Sg M *<dauk>
2 Sg F *<daun>
3 Sg <dau>
1 l *<daugu>
2 l *<dauzu>
3 l *<daute>, but % *<daue>
These forms are the ancestors of all the modern ones.
In $i,kaian( *dau+ has remained unchanged( and 9*daue+ has simply been strengthened to
*dabe+. In all the other forms( the diphthong LauL was leveled to LoL in $i,kaian( producing the
modern forms *dot+( *dok+( *don+( *dogu+( *do,u+.
In all the remaining dialects( the diphthong LauL apparently changed to LeuL( producing the
following forms#
1 Sg *<deut>
2 Sg M *<deuk>
2 Sg F *<deun>
3 Sg *<deu>
1 l *<deugu>
2 l *<deuzu>
3 l *<deute>
The ne't dialect to separate was %ipu,koan( in which this LeuL developed as follows# it was
reduced to LuL in the two third-person forms( but to LeL in all other forms. This gave the modern
%ipu,koan forms# *det+( *dek+( *den+( *du+( *degu+( *de,u+( *dute+.
In all the remaining dialects( the diphthong LeuL changed uniformly to LuL. The result was the
forms we find in most other dialects today# *dut+( *duk+( *dun+( *du+( *dugu+( *du,u+(
-uberoan( of course( has undergone one further change# the regular -uberoan change of LuL to LML
6that's u-umlaut7( yielding -uberoan *dMt+( *dMk+( and so on.
The original forms still show up to some e'tent when a suffi' is added. 4or e'ample( when we
add the relative suffi' *-n+( the form *dut+ becomes *dudan+( *duk+ becomes *duan+ 6from
earlier 9*dugan+( and *dun+ becomes *dunan+.
0 further point. The verb 9*edun+ has given rise to several derivatives.
The old suffi' *-ki+ 68ld $i,kaian *-gi+7( as I mentioned earlier( added a dative ob3ect to a
verb. This is the source of *eduki+( which used to take a dative ob3ect but no longer does. The
earlier sense of this verb was 'hold( hold on to( grasp'( and this is still the sense the verb has in the
north today. In the south( however( the sense of this verb has been generali,ed to 'have'( and
*eduki+ has displaced 9*edun+ as the ordinary verb for 'have'.
It is in fact a very common development in languages generally for a verb meaning something
like 'hold( grasp( sei,e' to develop into 'have'. 0 good e'ample is :nglish 'have'( which has
developed from a II: verb that anciently meant 'sei,e' -- also the source of &atin *capere+
'sei,e'. 0nother e'ample is <astilian *tener+ 'have'( which has developed from &atin *tenere+
'hold( keep( grasp'( and which has displaced earlier *haber+ as the ordinary verb for 'have'. This
*haber+ develops from &atin *habere+ 'have'( and( like 9*edun+ in the south( it is now confined
to use as an au'iliary. 6Incidentally. &atin *habere+ itself originally meant 'hold'( and it is
cognate with verbs in several other I: languages meaning 'sei,e( grasp'( and also( it appears(
more surprisingly( with :nglish 'give'.7
0 second derivative is *ukan+ 'have'. This began as roughly 9*edukan+( probably to be analy,ed
as 9*e-du-ka-n+( with a somewhat pu,,ling suffi'. The development of this to 9*eukan+ and
then to *ukan+ would be perfectly regular.
0 third derivative is *eutsi+. This clearly contains the suffi' *-ts-+( which( like *-ki+( conferred
the ability to take a dative ob3ect. The structure is probably 9*e-du-ts-i+. This chiefly western
verb means 'sei,e( grab( grasp'( and it still takes a dative ob3ect today. In $i,kaian( uniuely( this
verb also provides the forms of the transitive au'iliary when a dative ob3ect is present( as in
*emon deutsat+ or *emon dotsat+ 'I gave it to him'. 0ll the other dialects use different verbs for
this purpose.
I might close by adding that the history of the $asue au'iliaries( and above all of the dative-
marked au'iliaries( is complicated( messy and obscure. 8nly a few centuries ago( it seems(
speakers were able to choose from a wide range of verbs to serve as au'iliaries. :ven by the
beginning of the literary period( in the 1Dth century( the position was still rather complicated(
with different dialects using a range of different au'iliaries. 8nly in the last couple of centuries
has the position settled down somewhat( though considerable regional variation still e'ists.
&arry Trask <8%) >niversity of )usse' $righton $!1 ?@5 >A
Gerund Phrase Review
Read the sentences below.
Select an appropriate word from the verb list.
Convert it to a gerund.
Place it in the space provided.
No gerund is used twice.
Click Review Answer to see how you went.
)er *ist" analyse' enrol' indicate' ma+e' read' re$lace' sac+' stay' study' wal+' wor+
1. 1any people en3oyed along the new footpaths.
". The students discussed together to complete the assignment.
C. The 3udge delayed a decision because new evidence had been presented
that an ad3ournment was in the best interests of 3ustice.
H. The new manager advocated twenty per cent of the staff as a matter of principle.
O. $ecause %eraldine en3oyed history she decided in a Ih; was a good
thing to do.
D. !ot all students en3oy literature( some 3ust prefer for pleasure.
B. )he hated up so late.
E. The mechanic discussed the filters when the car would be due for its ne't service.
From Gerald Erichsen,
Your Guide to Spanish Language.
FREE GIFT with Newsletter! Act Now!
Definition: Traditionally, gerund is the term used to re!er to a certain Latin "er# !orm that could !unction as a noun.
Nowadays, the term generally is used to re!er to the present participle in English and the "er#al present participle o!
Spanish. These are the "er# !orms that end in $%ing in English and -ando or -endo in Spanish. &n #oth languages, the
gerund is used to !orm the progressi"e or continuous tenses. Note that while the English gerund can #e and
!re'uently is used a noun, the Spanish gerund does not !unction as a noun.(
Some grammarians also use the term gerund more loosely to re!er to any "er# !orm when it is !unctioning as a
noun. Generally, you should not assume this de!inition is meant unless the conte)t ma*es clear this is what is
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Cha$ter II( Synta,
IT is advisable to make a few remarks on the participle and gerund together before taking them
separately. 0s the word gerund is variously used( we first define it. 0 gerund is the verbal noun
identical in form with any participle( simple or compound( that contains the termination $ing
Thus the verb write has the active participles writing, ha"ing written, !eing a!out to write, a!out
to write, and the passive participles written, ha"ing !een written, !eing written, a!out to !e
written, !eing a!out to !e written 0ny of these e'cept written, a!out to write, a!out to !e
written, may be a gerund alsoF but while the participle is an ad3ective( the gerund is a noun(
differing from other nouns in retaining its power 6if the active gerund of a transitive verb7 of
directly governing another noun.
$oth these are of great importance for our purpose. The participle itself( even when confusion
with the other cannot occur( is much abusedF and the slovenly uses of it that were good enough in
$urke's time are now recogni,ed solecisms. 0gain( the identity between the two forms leads to
loose and unaccountable gerund constructions that will probably be swept away( as so many
other la'ities have been( with the advance of grammatical consciousness. /e shall have to deal
with both these points at some length.
It is indeed no wonder that the forms in $ing should reuire close attention. :'actly how many
old :nglish terminations $ing is heir to is a uestion debated by historical grammarians( which
we are not competent to answer. $ut we may point out that writing may now be 617 participlePI
was writingF I saw him writingF writing piously( he acts profanelyP( 6"7 gerund or full verbal
nounPI ob3ect to your writing thatP( 6C7 hybrid between gerund and participlePI do not mind
you writing itP( 6H7 detached verbal nounP/riting is an acuired artP( 6O7 concrete nounP
This writing is illegible. 1oreover( the verbal noun writing has the synonym to write, obligatory
instead of it in some conne'ions( better in some( worse in some( and impossible in othersF
compare( for instance# I do not like the trouble of writingF I shall not take the trouble to writeF the
trouble of writing is too much for himF it is a trouble to writeF writing is a trouble. The
grammatical difficulties( that is( are complicated by considerations of idiom.
In these preliminary remarks( however( it is only with the distinction or want of distinction
between participle and gerund that we are concerned. The participle is an ad3ective( and should
be in agreement with a noun or pronounF the gerund is a noun( of which it should be possible to
say clearly whether( and why( it is in the sub3ective( ob3ective( or possessive case( as we can of
other nouns. That the distinction is often obscured( partly in conseuence of the history of the
language( will be clear from one or two facts and e'amples.
1. The #an is !uilding contains what we should all now call( whether it is so or not
historically( a participle or verbal ad3ective# the house is !uilding 6older but still living
and correct :nglish for the house is !eing !uilt. contains( as its remarkable difference of
meaning prepares us to believe( a gerund or verbal noun( once governed by a now lost
". In 6e stopped, laughing we have a participleF in 6e stopped laughing, a verbal noun
governed directly by the verbF in 6e !urst out laughing, a verbal noun governed by a
vanished preposition.
C. Iresent usage does not bear out the definite modern ideas of the distinction between
participle and gerund as respectively ad3ective and noun. )o long as that usage continues(
there are various degrees of ambiguity( illustrated by the three following e'amples. It
would be impossible to say( whatever the conte't( whether the writer of the first intended
a gerund or a participle. In the second( a previous sentence would probably have decided
the uestion. In the third( though grammar 6again as modified by present usage7 leaves
the uestion open( the meaning of the sentence is practically decisive by itself.
<an he conceive Matthew 'rnold per#itting such a book to be written and published
about himselfQPTi#es
0nd no doubt that end will be secured by the )o##ission sitting in Iaris.PTi#es
Those who know least of them Rthe virtuesS know very well how much they are
concerned in other people ha"ing them.P1orley.
In the second of these( if sitting is a participle( the meaning is that the end will be secured
by the <ommission( which is described by way of identification as the one sitting in
Iaris. If sitting is gerund( the end will be secured by the wise choice of Iaris and not
another place for its scene. If )o##ission:s were written( there could be no doubt the
latter was the meaning. /ith )o##ission, there is( by present usage( absolutely no means
of deciding between the two meanings apart from possible light in the conte't. In the
third( common sense is able to tell us( though grammar gives the uestion up( that what is
interesting is not the other people who have them( but the uestion whether other people
have them.
/e shall( in the section on the gerund( take up the decided position that all gerunds ought to be
made distinguishable from participles. /e are uite aware( however( that in the first place a
language does not remodel itself to suit the grammarian's fancy for neat classificationF that
secondly the confusion is not merely wanton or ignorant( but the result of natural developmentF
that thirdly the change involves some inconveniences( especially to hurried and careless writers.
8n the other hand it is certain that the permanent tendency in language is towards the correct and
logical( not from itF it is merely hoped that the considerable number of instances here collected
may attract the attention of some writers who have not been aware of the uestion( and perhaps
convince them that the distinction is a useful one( that a writer ought to know and let us know
whether he is using a participle or a gerund( and that to abandon the gerund when it cannot be
distinguished without clumsiness need cause no difficulty to any but the very unskilful in
handling words.
Cha$ter II( Synta,
T5: unattached or wrongly attached participle is one of the blunders most common with
illiterate or careless writers. $ut there are degrees of heinousness in the offenceF our e'amples
are arranged from 1. to E. in these degrees( starting with perfect innocence.
1. Iarticiples that have passed into prepositions( con3unctions( or members of adverbial
)onsidering the circumstances( you may go.
8eeing that it was involuntary( he can hardly be blamed.
.oughly speaking, all #en are liars.
Looking at it in a shortened perspective of time( those years of transition have the uality
of a single consecutive occurrence.P5. %. /ells.
The Bill ... will bring about( assu#ing that it meets with good fortune in the remaining
stages of its passage through Iarliament( a very useful reform.PTi#es
.egarded as participles( these are incorrect. It is not you that consider( but IF not he that
sees( but weF not #en that roughly speak( but the moralistF not years that look( but
philosophic historiansF not the Bill that assumes( but the newspaper prophet. The
development into prepositions( Tc.( is a natural one( howeverF the only uestion about
any particular word of the kind is whether the vo' populi has yet declared for itF when it
has( there is no more to be saidF but when it has not( the process should be resisted as
long as possible( writers acting as a suspensive 5ouse of &ordsF an instance will be found
in H.
Three uotations from $urke will show that he( like others of his time( felt himself more
at liberty than most good writers would now feel themselves.
;ounding the appeal on this basis( it was <udged proper to lay before Iarliament...P
;lattering themselves that their power is become necessary to the support of all order and
government( e"erything which tends to the support of that power is sanctified=$urke.
6a"ing considered terror as producing an unnatural tension and certain violent emotions
of the nervesF it easily follows=$urke.
)imilar constructions may be found on almost every page of )mollett.
". Iarticiples half 3ustified by attachment to a pronoun implied in #y, your, his, their These
are perhaps better avoided.
6a"ing thus run through the causes of the sublime with reference to all the senses( #y
first observation will be found very nearly true.P$urke.
Being much interested in the correspondence bearing on the uestion ';o we believeQ'(
the first difficulty arising in #y mind is...P0aily Telegraph
My farm consisted of about twenty acres of e'cellent land( ha"ing gi"en a hundred
pounds for my predecessor's good will.P%oldsmith.
C. 1ere unattached participles for which nothing can be said( e'cept that they are
sometimes inoffensive if the word to be supplied is very vague.
0ou!ling the point( and running along the southern shore of the little peninsula( the scene
changes.P4. 1. <rawford.
The most trying ... period was this one of enforced idleness waiting for the day of entry.
6a"ing acquired so many tropical colonies there is the undoubted duty attached to such
possession of...PTi#es
H. Iarticiples that may some day become prepositions( Tc.
)irP&eferring to your correspondent's 6the $ishop of <roydon's7 letter in to-day's issue(
he uotes at the close of it the following passage.P0aily Telegraph
6e must be the $ishopF for the immediately preceding 8ir, marking the beginning of the
letter( shows that no one else has been mentionedF but if we had given the sentence
without this indication( no one could possibly have believed that this was soF referring is
not yet unparticipled.
O. 0n unwary writer sometimes attaches a participle to the sub3ect of a previous sentence(
assuming that it will be the sub3ect of the new sentence also( and then finds 6or rather is
not awake enough to find7 himself mistaken. This is a trap into which good writers
sometimes fall( and so dangerous to bad writers that we shall give many e'amples. It is
important for the tiro to reali,e that he has not satisfied the elementary reuirements of
grammar until he has attached the participle to a noun in the same sentence as itself( not
in another. 5e must also remember that( for instance( % went and he ca#e, though often
spoken of loosely as a sentence( is in fact as fully two sentences as if each half of it were
ten lines long( and the two were parted by a full stop and not connected by a con3unction.
They had now reached the airy dwelling where 1rs. 1acshake resided( and ha"ing rung,
the door was at length most deliberately opened.P). 4errier.
The lo"ers sought a shelter( and( mutually char#ed with each other( ti#e flew for a while
on downy pinions.P). 4errier.
0 molecular change is propagated to the muscles by which the body is retracted( and
causing them to contract( the act of retraction is brought about.P5u'ley.
>oseph, as they supposed( by tampering with /ill( got all my secrets( and was acuainted
with all my motionsPF and ha"ing also undertaken to watch all those of his young lady(
the wise fa#ily were secure.P.ichardson.
Miss *inkerton ... in vain ... tried to overawe her. 'tte#pting once to scold her in public(
&e!ecca hit upon the ... plan of answering her in 4rench( which uite routed the old
$ut he thought it derogatory to a brave knight passively to await the assault( and ordering
his own men to charge( the hostile squadrons, rapidly advancing against each other( met
midway on the plain.PIrescott.
0lvarado( roused by the noise of the attack on this uarter( hastened to the support of his
officer( when 'l#agro, sei,ing the occasion( pushed across the bridge( dispersed the
small body left to defend it( and( falling on 0lvarado's rear( that general saw himself
hemmed in on all sides.PIrescott.
Murtagh, without a word of reply( went to the door( and shouting into the passage
something in Irish( the roo# was instantly filled with bogtrotters.P$orrow.
$ut( as before( 'nne once more made me smart( and ha"ing equipped herself in a gown
and bonnet of minePnot of the newestPoff we set.P<rockett.
0t this I was silent for a little( and then % resolved to speak plainly to 0nne. $ut not !eing
ready with my words( she got in first.P<rockett.
4or many years % had to contend with much opposition in the nature of scepticismF but
ha"ing had hundreds of successful cases and proofs it has become such an established
fact in the eastern counties that many landowners( Tc.( would not think of sinking a well
without first seeking the aid of a water diviner.PTi#es
D. 0 more obvious trap( and conseuently less fatal( is a change from the active construction
that may have been intended to a passive( without corresponding alterations. If the writers
of the ne't two had used we #ust ad#it instead of it #ust !e ad#itted, a policy that they
put forward, instead of a policy put forward, the participles hesitating and !elie"ing
would have had owners.
/hile hesitating to accept this terrible indictment of 4rench infancy( it #ust !e ad#itted
that 4rench literature in all its strength and wealth is a grown-up literature.P8pectator
5e and those with whom he acted were responsible for the policy promulgatedPa policy
put forward in all seriousness and honesty !elie"ing it to be essential to the obtaining of
the better government of Ireland.PTi#es
B. Iarticiples that seem to belong to a noun( but do not.
&etters on the constant stopping of omnibuses( thus causing considerable suffering to the
;oes causing agree with letters? Then the letters annoy the horses. /ith stopping? Then
stopping causes suffering by stopping 6thus. /ith o#ni!uses? The horses possibly
blame those innocents( but we can hardly suppose a human being( even the writer of the
sentence( so illogical. The word thus, however( is often considered to have a kind of
dispensing power( freeing its participle from all obligationsF so#
The Irince was( by the special command of his 1a3esty the :mperor( made the guardian
of 5.I.5. the <rown Irince( thus necessitating the Irince's constant presence in the
capital of Uapan.PTi#es
0 very wealthy man can never be sure even of friendship(Pwhile the highest( strongest
and noblest kind of love is nearly always denied to him( in this way carrying out the
fulfilment of those strange but true words#P'5ow hardly shall he that is a rich man enter
the Aingdom of 5eavenV'P<orelli.
It is not lo"e that carries out( but the power that denies love( which is not mentioned.
E. .eally bad unattached or wrongly attached participles. The reader will generally find no
difficulty in seeing what has led to the blunder( and if he will take the trouble to do this(
will be less likely to make similar blunders himself.
0nd then stooping to take up the key to let #yself into the garden( he started and looked
as if he heard somebody near the door.P.ichardson.
)irP/ith reference to this uestion ';o we believe'( while recogni@ing the vastness of
the sub3ect( its modern aspect has some definite features.P0aily Telegraph
Taken in con3unction with the splendid white and brown trout-fishing of the .osses lakes
and rivers( anglers have now the opportunity of fishing one of the best( if not the best(
fishery to be obtained in Ireland.P0dvt.
)irP6a"ing read with much interest the letters re '$elieve only' now appearing in the
0aily Telegraph, perhaps some of your readers might be interested to know the following
te'ts which have led some great men to 'believe only'.P0aily Telegraph
Being pushed unceremoniously to one sidePwhich was precisely what wishedPhe
usurped my place.P<. $rontW.
The higher forms of speech acuire a secondary strength from association. 6a"ing, in
actual life( habitually heard them in conne'ion with mental impressions( and ha"ing !een
accusto#ed to meet with them in the most powerful writing( they come to have in
themselves a species of force.P)pencer.
8tanding over one of the sluices of the 0swan dam last Uanuary( not only was the
vibration evident to the senses...PTi#es
The following passage may be commended for use in e'amination papers. '0lways
!elo"ed by the Imperial couple who are to-day the )overeign lord and lady of %reat
$ritain( their 1a3esties have( on many occasions since the ;evonshire houses re3oiced in
a mistress once more( honoured them by visits e'tending over some days.'PTi#es
The last( as the Ti#es reviewer has noticed( will repay analysis in several ways.
?. The asolute construction is not much to be recommended( having generally an alien
air in :nglishF but it is sometimes useful. It must be observed( first( that the case used
should now invariably be the sub3ective( though it was otherwise in old :nglish.
)econdly( it is very seldom advisable to make an absolute construction and insert a
pronoun for the purpose when the participle might simply be attached in ordinary
agreement to a noun already to hand. Thirdly( it is very bad to use the construction( but
omit to give the participle a noun or pronoun to itself. These three transgressions will be
illustrated( in the same order( by the ne't three e'amples. $ut many of the wrong
sentences in O. above may be regarded as absolute constructions with the sub3ect omitted.
I( with whom that Impulse was the most intractable( the most capricious( the most
maddening of masters 6hi# before me always e'cepted7...P<. $rontW.
')pecial' is a much overworked word( it being loosely used to mean great in degree( also
peculiar in kind.P.. %. /hite.
This is said now because( ha"ing !een said before( I have been 3udged as if I had made
the pretensions which were then and which are now again disclaimed.P.. %. /hite.
Cha$ter II( Synta,
T/% G%R.N-
T5:.: are three uestions to be considered# whether a writer ought to let us know that he is
using a gerund and not a participleF when a gerund may be used without its sub3ect's being
e'pressedF when a gerund with preposition is to be preferred to the infinitive.
1. Is the !erund to e made reco!ni0ale? 0nd( in the circumstances that make it
possible( that is( when its sub3ect is e'pressed( is this to be done sometimes( or alwaysQ
It is done by putting what we call for shortness' sake the sub3ect of the gerund 6i.e.( the
word #e or #y in #e doing or #y doing. in the possessive instead of in the ob3ective or
sub3ective case.
Take the typical sentence# I dislike my best friend6's7 violating my privacy. It cannot be a
true account of the matter to say that friend is the ob3ect of % dislike, and has a participle
"iolating attached to it. 4or 6a7 we can substitute resent, which never takes a personal
ob3ect( for dislike, without changing the sense. 6b7 If we substitute a passive construction(
also without changing the sense( we find that dislike has uite a different ob3ectP
pri"acy=I dislike my privacy being violated by my friend. 6c7 1any of us would be
willing to adopt the sentiment conveyed who yet would not admit for a moment that they
disliked their best friend even when he intrudedF they condemn the sin( but not the sinner.
Aiolating then is not an ordinary participle. It does not follow yet that it is a gerund. It
may be an e'traordinary participle( fused into one notion with the noun( so that a friend
"iolating means the$"iolation$!y$a$friend The &atin scholar here at once puts in the
idiom of occisus )aesar, which does not generally mean )aesar after he was killed, as it
naturally should( but the killing of <aesar( or the fact that <aesar had been killed. The
parallel is close 6though the use is practically confined to the passive in &atin7( and
familiar to all who know any &atin at all. $ut it shows not so much what the :nglish
construction is as how educated people have been able to reconcile themselves to an
ambiguous and not very reasonable idiomPnot very reasonable( that is( after language
has thrown off its early limitations( and got over the first difficulty of accomplishing
abstract e'pression of any kind. The sort of fusion assumed is further illustrated for the
&atinist( though not so closely( by the &atin accusative and infinitive. This theory then
takes "iolating for a participle fused into one notion with friend There are two
I. The construction in :nglish is( though in the nature of things not as common( yet
as easy in the passive as in the active. !ow the passive of "iolating is either
"iolated or !eing "iolated It is uite natural to say( Irivacy violated once is no
longer inviolable. /hy then should it be most unnatural to say( The worst of
privacy violated once is that it is no longer inviolableQ !o one( not purposely
seeking the unusual for some reason or other( would omit !eing before "iolated in
the second. Ket as participles "iolated and !eing "iolated are eually goodPnot
indeed always( but in this conte't( as the simpler Irivacy sentence shows. The
only difference between the two participles 6e'cept that in brevity( which tells
against !eing "iolated. is that the longer form can also be the gerund( and the
shorter cannot. The almost invariable choice of it is due to the instinctive feeling
that what we are using is or ought to be the gerund. 0 more convincing instance
than this mere adaptation of our original e'ample may be added#
1any years ago I became impressed with the necessity for our infantry !eing
taught and practised in the skilful use of their rifle.P&ord .oberts.
The necessity for our infantry taught and practised is absolutely impossible. $ut
why( if !eing taught is participle( and not gerundQ
II. 0ssuming that the fused-participle theory is satisfactory and recogni,ed( whence
comes the general( though not universal impression among those who( without
being well versed in grammar( are habitually careful how they speak and write(
that constructions like the following are ignorant vulgarismsQPIt is no use he
6his7 doing itF it is no use him 6his7 doing itF that need not prevent us 6our7
believingF e'cuse me 6my7 interrupting youF a thing 6thing's7 e'isting does not
prove that it ought to e'istF I was annoyed by Tom 6Tom's7 hesitatingF the Tsar
6Tsar's7 leaving .ussia is significantF it failed through the Aing 6Aing's7 refusing
his signatureF without us 6our7 hearing the man( the facts cannot be got atF without
the man 6man's7 telling us himself( we can never know. /ith a single e'ception
for one 6not both7 of the first two( none of these ought to cause a moment's
uneasiness to any one who was consciously or unconsciously in the fused-
participle frame of mindF and if they do cause uneasiness it shows that that frame
of mind is not effectively present.
The 4used-Iarticiple Theory( having no sufficient answer to these ob3ections( but
seeing that the gerund's case is also weak( naturally tries a counter-attack#PIf on
the other hand the gerund theory is satisfactory and recogni,ed( how is it
conceivable that people should leave out the possessive :s in the reckless way they
doQ To which( however( the %erund makes reply#PI regret that they do leave it
out( but at least we can see how they come toF it is the combined result of a
mistake and an inconvenience. The mistake is caused by certain types of sentence
in which a real( not a fused participle is so used that the noun and its 6unfused7
participle give a sense hardly distinguishable from a possessive noun and a
gerund. :'amples are#
This plan has now been abandoned owing to circu#stances requiring the
convocation of representatives of the people at the earliest possible moment.P
Ti#es imposing as great difficulty as possible on parents and pu!licans using child
8f course no obstacles should be put in the way of charita!le people pro"iding
free or other meals if they think fit.PTi#es
The notion of the )@ar !eing addressed in such terms by the nobility of his capital
would have been regarded as an absolute impossibility.P8pectator
There is of course a difference. 4or instance( in the e'ample about the <,ar( as in
a previous one about concei"ing Matthew 'rnold per#itting, the participle has a
pictorial effectF it invites us to imagine the physical appearance of these two great
men under indignity instead of merely thinking of the abstract indignity( as we
should have done if )@ar:s and 'rnold:s had shown that we had a gerundF but the
difference is very fineF the possessive sign might be inserted without practical
effect in all these four( and in hundreds like them. 0nd unlearned people may be
e'cused for deducing that the sub3ect of the gerund can be used at pleasure
without the possessive sign( while the learned comfort themselves with the fused-
participle theory. That is the mistake. The inconvenience is this# it is easy enough
to use the possessive ad3ectives 6#y, Tc.7( and to add the possessive sign to most
names and many single nounsF but the sub3ect of a gerund is often a long phrase(
after which the sign is intolerable. )o the mistake 6that the gerund may have a
sub3ect not marked by the possessive7 is eagerly applied to obviating the
inconvenience 6that long gerund sub3ects must be avoided7. 0nd that is why
people drop their possessive :s, and why you( the 4used Iarticiple( flourish(
defrauding both me( the %erund( and the honest participle. Thus answered( the
4used Iarticiple does not continue the argument( but pleads only that there is
room for all three forms.
$efore giving some e'amples to help in the decision( we shall summari,e our
own opinion. 617 It is not a matter to be decided by appeal to historical grammar.
0ll three constructions may have separate legitimate descents( and yet in the
interests of clear thought and e'pression it may be better for one of them to be
abandoned. 6"7 There are two opposite tendencies at present# among careful
writers( to avoid the fused participle 6this( being negative( can naturally not be
illustrated7 and to put possessive signs in slightly uncomfortable places by way of
compensationF among slovenly writers( to throw off all limits of length for the
sub3ect of the fused participle. 6C7 &ong fused-participle phrases are a variety of
abstract e'pression( and as such to be deprecated. 0mong the resources of
civili,ation is the power of choosing between different ways of saying the same
thingF and literary skill is very much a matter of e'ercising that powerF a writer
should recogni,e that if he cannot get round an ugly fused participle there is still
much for him to learn. 6H7 8pportunities for ambiguity are so abundant in :nglish(
owing to the number of words whose parsing depends on conte't( that all aids to
precision are valuableF and it is not too much to e'pect a writer to know and let us
know whether he means a participle or a gerund.
a. That the possessive of all pronouns that have the form should be used
instead of the ob3ective or sub3ective is hardly disputed. <orrect accordingly#
Kou may rely upon #e doing all in my power.P)ir /. 5arcourt.
The confounded fetterlock clapped on my movements by old %riffiths prevents
#e repairing to :ngland in person.P)cott.
$ut when it comes to us following his life and e'ample...P0aily Telegraph
!othing can prevent it being the main issue at the %eneral :lection.P 8pectator
8ne of them( if you will pardon #e reminding you( is that no discussion is to pass
between us.P:. 4. $enson.
4rederick had already accepted the crown( lest Uames should ob3ect to hi# doing
...notwithstanding the fact that their suspicions of ease-loving( ear-tickling
parsons prevent the# supporting the commercial churches of our time.P0aily
b. :'amples in which the possessive of nouns might be written without a
!early a week passed over without Mr ;airford hearing a word directly from his
1rs. ;owne /right had not forgiven the indignity of her son having been refused
by 1ary.P). 4errier.
In no other religion is there a thought of #an being saved by grace and not by
merit.P0aily Telegraph
0nd it is said that( on a "isitor once asking to see his library( ;escartes led him...
It is true that one of our ob3ects was to prevent 1 children 'sipping' the liuor they
were sent for.PTi#es
8rders were sometimes issued to prohibit 1 soldiers buying and eating
.enewed efforts at a settlement in 1E?1 failed through the 8wedish 3o"ern#ent
leading off with a flippant and offensive suggestion.P!ansen.
5urried reading results in the learner forgetting half of what he reads( or in his
forming vague conceptions.P)weet.
c. 0ll the last set involved what were either actual or virtual names of
personsF there is more difficulty with abstract nouns( compound sub3ects( and
words of which the possessive is ugly. Those that may perhaps bear the
possessive mark will be put first( and alterations suggested for the others.
/e look forward to #uch attention being given.PTi#es
5e affirmed that such increases were the rule in that city on the change being
I live in hopes of this discussion resulting in some modification in our form of
belief.P0aily Telegraph 6that this discussion may result7
The real ob3ection to the possessive here is merely the addition to the crowd of
In the event of the passage being found( he will esteem it a favour... 6if the
passage is found7
<onceive my ve'ation at being told by Iapa this morning that he had not the least
ob3ection to 9dward and #e marrying whenever we pleased.P). 4errier. 6our7
8r( if the names are essential( did not in the least #ind how soon 9dward and %
It has been replied to the absurd taunt about the ;rench inventing nothing( that at
least ;escartes invented %erman philosophy.P1orley. 64renchmen's7
d. 0 modern construction called the compound possessive was mentioned at
the end of the section on <ases. It is sometimes ugly( sometimes inoffensiveF that
is a matter of degree and of knowing where to draw the lineF there is no ob3ection
to it in principle. 0nd the application of it will sometimes help out a gerund. The
first uotation gives a compound possessive simplyF the second( a gerund
construction to which it ought to be applicableF the third and fourth( two to which
it can be appliedF and the last( one to which it cannot.
0 protestation( read at :dinburgh( was followed( on 'rchi!ald >ohnston of
1arriston:s suggestion( by...PU. .. %reen.
The retirement of Uudge )tonor was made the sub3ect of special reference
yesterday on the occasion of 8ir 1 L 8elfe, his successor, taking his seat in
1arylebone <ounty <ourt.PTi#es
The mere fact of such a pre#ier being endured shows...P$agehot.
There is no possibility of the dissolution of the legislati"e union becoming a vital
If some means could be devised for ... insisting upon #any 9nglish guardians of
the poor making themselves more acuainted...PTi#es
The only ob3ection to a possessive mark after successor is that the two commas
cannot be dispensed withF we must say when took for on the occasion of
taking 8uch a pre#ier:s will certainly pass. In the 8pectator sentence( we should
ourselves allow union:s/ opinions will differ. $ut to put the :s after poor in the last
sentence would be ridiculousF that sentence must be rewrittenPinsisting that
many :nglish guardians of the poor should makePor else poor$law 3uardians:
must be used.
e. )ometimes we can get over the difficulty without abandoning the gerund(
by some slight change of order.
This incentive can only be supplied by the nation itself taking the matter up
seriously.P&ord .oberts.
If itself:s is ob3ected to( omit itself 6or shift it to the end7( and write nation:s
f. $ut many types of sentence remain that will have to be completely
changed if the gerund is to be recogni,able. It will be admitted about most of our
e'amples that the change is not to be regretted. The sub3ect of the gerund is
italici,ed in each( to emphasi,e its length.
/e have to account for the collision of two great fleets, so equal in #aterial
strength that the issue was thought dou!tful !y #any careful statisticians, ending
in the total destruction of one of them and in the immunity of the other from
damage greater than might well be incurred in a mere skirmish.PTi#es
4or account for ending write ascertain why ended The sentence is radically
bad( because the essential construction seems complete at collision=a false scent.
That( which is one of the worst literary sins( is the freuent result of long fused
participles. It is uite practically possible here for readers to have supposed that
they were going to be told why the fleets met( and not why the meeting ended as
it did. In the remaining sentences( we shall say when there is false scent( but leave
the reader to e'amine it.
The success of the negotiations depends on the &ussian Minister at Tokio being
allowed to convince Uapan that...PTi#es
The compound possessivePTokio'sPis tempting( but perhaps overbold. Insert
whether after depends on, and write is for !eing
)o far from this being the case( the policy ... was actually decided upon before ...
the uestion ... was raised.PTi#es
8mit !eing the case
/e are not without tokens of an openness for this higher truth also, of a keen
though unculti"ated sense for it, having e'isted in $urns.P<arlyle.
4or the first of write that, omit the second of, and omit ha"ing 4alse scent.
There is no apparent evidence of an early peace being necessitated by the
pecuniary e'igencies of the .ussian %overnment.P)ir 5oward Jincent.
4or of !eing write that will !e, if peace:s cannot be endured.
The general effect of his words was to show the absurdity of the 8ecretary of
8tate for 1ar, and our #ilitary authorities generally, denouncing the 1ilitia as
useless or redundant.P8pectator
4or the a!surdity of denouncing write how a!surd it was for to denounce
4alse scent( though less deceptive.
0pparently his mission was decided upon without that of the British and 8panish
Ministers having been taken into account( or( at all events( without their having
been sufficiently reckoned with.PTi#es
/ithout regard 6at all events without sufficient regard7 to that of... seeking employment in foreign protected countries( in conseuence of
#anufacturing !usiness in #any !ranches in which it #ight !e e#ployed at ho#e
being rendered unprofitable by our system of free trade.P&ord %oschen.
4or in consequence of !eing write !ecause has !een $ad false scent again.
)o far from the relief gi"en to agriculture !y the 8tate paying one$half of the rates
being ineuitable( it is but a bare act of 3ustice.P8pectator
8bserve the fused participle within fused participle hereF and read thus# )o far
from its being ineuitable that the state should relieve( Tc.
0fter these specimens( chosen not as e'ceptional ones( but merely as not
admitting of simple correction by insertion of the possessive mark( the reader will
perhaps agree that the long gerund sub3ectPor rather noun phrase of the fused
participlePis a monstrosity( the abolition of which would be a relief to him( and
good discipline for the writer.
Two sentences are added to show the chaotic state of present practice. !oticing
the bold use of the strict gerund in the first( we conclude that the author is a sound
gerundite( faithful in spite of all temptationsF but a few pages later comes the
needless relapse into fused participle.
I remember old )olney:s once( in old days( calling that kind of marriage a
)he had thought in her heart that Mr Bar#!y espousing the girl would smoothe a
troubled prospect.P1eredith.
The following looks like a deliberate avoidance of both constructions by a writer
who is undecided between the two. %ts !eing is what should have been written.
I do not say that the advice is not sound( or complain that it is given. I do
deprecate that it should !e taken.PTi#es
0nd perhaps a shyness of so#ething:s !eing shown accounts for the ne't odd
arrangementF it is true that entire recasting is what is called for.
There !eing shown to !e so#ething radically defective in the management of the
$ank led to the appointment of a <ommittee.P5. ;. 1acleod.
". When must the su1ect of the !erund 2or infiniti#e3 e e,$ressed' and when
This is not a controversial matter like the lastF the principles are uite simple( and will be
acceptedF but it is necessary to state and illustrate them because they are often forgotten.
0s the same mistakes are sometimes made with the infinitive( that is to be considered as
.oughly( the sub3ect of the gerund 6or infinitive7 should be e'pressed if it is different
from( and omitted if it is the same as( the sub3ect of the sentence. To omit it when
different is positively wrong( and may produce actual ambiguity or worse( though
sometimes there is only a slipshod effectF to insert it when the same is generally clumsy.
!o one would say 'I succeeded to his property upon dying'( because( % being the sub3ect
of the sentence( #y is naturally suggested instead of the necessary his as sub3ect of the
gerundF the his must be inserted before dying, even though the nature of the case obviates
ambiguity. To take an instance that will show both sides( the following is correct#
I shut the door and stood with my back to it. Then( instead of his philandering with $ess(
I( <lementina 1acTaggart( had some plain speech with Uohn $arnaby.P<rockett.
)ub3ect of the sentence( IF sub3ect of the gerund( heF they are differentF therefore the he
must be e'pressed( in the shape of his !ow rewrite the main sentence asPUohn $arnaby
heard some plain speech from me( <lementina 1acTaggart. The sense is the sameF but
the his before philandering at once becomes superfluousF it is not yet seriously in the
way( because we do not know what is the sub3ect of philandering, the name only coming
later. !ow rewrite it again asPThen Uohn $arnaby heard some plain speech from ...
instead of... The his is now so clumsy as to be almost impossible.
The insertion of superfluous sub3ects is much less common than the omission of
necessary onesF but three e'amples follow. The first is a rare and precious varietyF the
second has no apparent 3ustificationF for the third it may be said that the unusual his has
the same effect as the insertion of the parenthetic words as he actually does after li#iting
would have had.
Kou took food to him( but instead of he reaching out his hand and taking it( he kept
asking for food.P0aily Telegraph
5arsh facts# sure as she was of her never losing her filial hold of the beloved.P1eredith.
I have said that 1r. <hamberlain has no warrant for his li#iting the phrase ... to the
competitive manufacture of goods.P&ord %oschen.
In giving the rule summarily( we used the phrase su!<ect of the sentence That phrase is
not to be confined to the sub3ect of the main sentence( but to be referred instead( when
necessary( to the sub3ect of the subordinate clause in which the gerund may stand. 4or
The good( the illuminated( sit apart from the rest( censuring their dullness and vices( as if
they thought that( !y sitting very grand in their chairs( the very brokers( attorneys( and
congressmen would see the error of their ways( and flock to them.P:merson.
5ere !y sitting breaks the rule( though the sub3ect of sitting is the same as that of the
main verb sit, because the sub3ect of the clause in which sitting comes is not the good, but
!rokers, Bc The right way to mend this is not to insert their before sitting=which after
all is clumsy( though correctPbut to make the good the sub3ect of the clause also( by
writing as if they thought that !y sitting they would #ake the !rokers see the error
0nd sometimes su!<ect of the sentence is to be interpreted still more freely as the word
grammatically dominant in the part of the sentence that contains the gerund. 4or instance#
4rom the $ible alone was she taught the duties of morality( but familiari,ed to her taste
!y hearing its stories and precepts from the lips she best loved.P). 4errier.
5ere the dominant word is Bi!le, to which fa#iliari@ed belongs. )o( though she does
happen to be the main sub3ect( her must be inserted because the fa#iliari@ed phrase
removes the gerund from the reach of the main sub3ect.
0fter these e'planations we add miscellaneous instances. It will be seen that
transgression of the rule( though it seldom makes a sentence ambiguous enough to
deceive( easily makes it ambiguous enough to amuse the reader at wrong moments( or
gives an impression of amateurish work. 1istakes are mended( sometimes by inserting
the sub3ect of the gerund 6or infinitive7( sometimes by changing the main sub3ect to make
it the same as that of the gerund( sometimes by other recasting. e'cellent arrangement for a breeching( which( when released( remains with the
carriage( so that lead or centre horses can be put in the wheel without ha"ing to affi' a
new breeching.PTi#es
&ucky( reflects the reader( since horses are not good at affi'ing breechings. /rite the
dri"ers can put horses without ha"ing to affix
I cultivated a passionless and cold e'terior( for I discovered that !y assu#ing such a
character( certain otherwise crafty persons would talk more readily before me.P<orelli.
/rite if % assu#ed/ or else % should induce certain persons to talk It will be noticed
that the mistake here( and often( is analogous to the most freuent form of wrongly
attached participle 6participle( O7F the writer does not observe that he has practically
passed from the sphere of the sentence whose sub3ect was the word that he still allows to
'fter following a country <hurch of :ngland clergyman for a period of half a century( a
newly-appointed( youthful vicar( totally unacuainted with rural life( comes into the
parish( and at once commences to alter the services of the <hurch( believed in by the
parishioners for generations.P0aily Telegraph
%rammar gives his, i.e.( the new vicar's( as sub3ect of following/ it is really either #y or
the parishioners:. Insert #y or our, or write 'fter we +%. ha"e followed
I am sensible that !y conni"ing at it it will take too deep root ever to be eradicated.P
Insert our, or write if conni"ed at
This was e'perienced by certain sensitive temperaments( either by sensations which
produced shivering( or !y seeing at night a peculiar light in the air.PTi#es
/ho or what seesQ <ertainly not this, the main sub3ect. !ot even te#pera#ents, which
have no eyes. /rite *ersons of sensiti"e te#pera#ent experienced this, Bc
$ut the commercial interests of both %reat $ritain and the >nited )tates were too closely
affected by the terms of the .usso-<hinese agreement to let it pass unnoticed.PTi#es
It is not the interests that cannot let it pass( but the countries. Insert for those countries
before to let/ or write Both 3reat Britain and the Cnited 8tates were too closely affected
in their interests to let
0nd it would be well for all concerned( for motor drivers and the public alike( if this were
made law( instead of fixing a ma'imum speed.PTi#es
/rite if the law required this
0nd in order to !ring her to a right understanding( she underwent a system of
persecution.P). 4errier.
/rite they su!<ected her to for she underwent
5er friendship is too precious to me( not to dou!t my own merits on the one hand( and
not to be an'ious for the preservation of it on the other.P.ichardson.
/rite % "alue her friendship too highly not to
8ne cannot do good to a man whose mouth has been gagged in order not to hear what he
desires for his welfare.PTi#es
%rammar suggests that his mouthPor( if indulgent( that hePis not to hearF but the
person meant is one /rite one has gagged for has !een gagged
%ermany has( alasV victories enough not to add one of the kind which would have been
implied in the retirement of 1. ;elcassX.PTi#es
It is 4rance( not %ermany( that should not add. /rite without ;rance:s adding
%n order to o!tain peace( ordinary battles followed by ordinary victories and ordinary
results will only lead to a useless prolongation of the struggle.PTi#es
This is a triumph of inconseuence. /rite %f peace is the o!<ect, it should !e re#e#!ered
that ordinary
It will have occurred to the reader that( while most of the sentences uoted are to be
condemned( ob3ection to a few of them might be called pedantic. The fact is that every
writer probably breaks the rule often( and escapes notice( other people's( his own( or both.
;ifferent readers( however( will be critical in different degreesF and whoever breaks the
rule does so at his own riskF if his offence is noticed( that is hanging evidence against him
by itselfF if it is not noticed( it is not an offence. 8f saying on page 1"B Mistakes are
#ended so#eti#es !y inserting the su!<ect, we plead %uilty if we were caught in the act(
but otherwise !ot %uilty.
C. Choice etween the !erund with $re$osition and the infiniti#e(
It was said in the preliminary section on the Iarticiple and %erund that writing=the
verbal noun or gerundPand to write=the infinitivePare in some sense synonymsF but
phrases were given showing that it is by no means always indifferent which of the two is
used. It is a matter of idiom rather than of grammarF but this seems the most convenient
place for drawing attention to it. To give satisfactory rules would reuire many more
e'amples and much more space than can be afforded. $ut something will be gained if
students are convinced 617 that many of the mistakes made give sentences the appearance
of having been written by a foreigner or one who is not at home with the literary
languageF 6"7 that the mistakes are nearly always on one side( the infinitive being the
form that should only be used with cautionF 6C7 that a slight change in arrangement may
reuire a change from infinitive to gerund or vice versa.
a. /hen the infinitive or gerund is attached to a noun( defining or answering
the uestion what 6hope( Tc.7 about it( it is almost always better to use the gerund
with of/ not uite always( howeverF for instance( an intention to return, usually(
and a tendency to think always.
The vain hope to !e understood by everybody possessed of a ballot makes us in
the >nited )tates perhaps guiltier than public men in %reat $ritain in the use of
that monstrous muddled dichotomy 'capital and labour'.PTi#es
/hat hopeQPThat of being understood. /rite it so( and treat all the following
The habitual necessity to a#ass Rof amassingS matter for the weekly sermon( set
him noting...P1eredith.
/e wish to be among the first to felicitate 1r. /hitelaw .eid upon his
opportunity to exercise Rof e'ercisingS again the distinguished talents which...P
1en lie twenty times in as many hours in the hope to propitiate Rof propitiatingS
/e left the mound in the twilight( with the design to return Rof returningS the ne't
The main duties of government were omittedPthe duty to instruct Rof instructingS
the ignorant( to supply Rof supplyingS the poor with work and good guidance.P
1r. 5ay's purpose to preser"e or restore Rof preserving or restoringS the integrity
of the administrative entity of <hina has never been abandoned.PTi#es
1y custo# to !e dressed Rof being dressedS for the day( as soon as breakfast is
over( ... will make such a step less suspected.P.ichardson.
5e points out that if .ussia accepted the agreement( she would not attain her
o!<ect to clear Rof clearingS the situation( inasmuch as...PTi#es
/hat accounts for these mistakes is the analogy of forms like# 8ur design was to
returnF it is a duty to instructF man has power to interpret 6but the power of
interpreting7F it is my custom to be dressed.
/hen( however( the noun thus defined is more or less closely fused into a single
idea with the verb that governs it( the infinitive becomes legitimate( though
seldom necessary.
The menace to have secreted )olmes( and that other( that I had thoughts to run
away with her foolish brother( ... so much terrified the dear creature...P
I passed my childhood here( and had a weakness here to close my life.P
$efore ten o'clock in the evening( %asca had the satisfaction to see the bridge so
well secured that...PIrescott.
0lmagro's followers #ade as little scruple to appropriate to their own use such
horses and arms as they could find.PIrescott.
6ad thoughts means was planning/ had a weakness means desired/ had the
satisfaction, was pleased/ #ade as little scruple, scrupled as little
0gain( an interval between the noun defined and the infinitive or gerund makes
the former more tolerable.
The necessity which has confronted the Tokio /ar 8ffice( to enlarge their views
of the reuirements of the situation.PTi#es
8r the infinitive is used to avoid a multiplication of of
5e had as much as any man ever had that gift of a great preacher to #ake the
oratorical fervour which persuades himself while it lasts into the abiding
conviction of his hearers.P&owell.
The pastures of Tartary were still remembered by the tenacious practice of the
!orsemen to eat horseflesh at religious feasts.P:merson.
If the noun has the indefinite article the infinitive is better sometimes.
$ut our recognition of it implies a corresponding duty to #ake the most of such
' duty to make# the duty of making. <ompare power and the power above.
The following is probably an adaptation 6not to be commended7 of it is necessary
for &ussia to secure=for &ussia to secure being regarded as a fused infinitive like
the &atin accusative and infinitive.
5is views on the necessity for .ussia to secure the command of the sea...P
b. Though the gerund with of is the usual construction after nouns( they
sometimes prefer the gerund with other prepositions also to the infinitive. The
gerund with in should be used( for instance( in the following. $ut euphony
operates again in the first.
...the e'traordinary re#issness of the :nglish commanders to utili@e their
preponderating strength against the $oers.PTi#es
&ord Aenyon reminded the 5ouse of the resistance met with to vaccination( to
RofQS the possible effect of the proposal to increase that resistance...PTi#es
I think sculpture and painting have an effect to teach us manners and abolish
)uch a capitulation would be inconsistent with the position of any %reat Iower(
independently of the hu#iliation there would be for :ngland and 4rance to
su!#it their agreement for approval and perhaps modification to %ermany.P
The humiliation there would be in submittingF or the humiliation it would be to
c. 0fter verbs and ad3ectives the infinitive is much more commonF but no one
will use a gerund where an infinitive is reuired( while many will do the reverse.
$ut history accords with the Uapanese practice to show Rin showingS that...P
/e must necessarily appeal to the intuition( and ai# much more to suggest than
to descri!e Rat suggesting than at describingS.P:merson.
$ut they can only highly serve us( when they ai# not to drill, but to create Rat
drilling( but at creatingS.P:merson.
)o far from ai#ing to !e mistress of :urope( she was rapidly sinking into the
almost helpless prey of 4rance.PU. .. %reen.
This is to avoid ai#ing at !eingF compare the avoidance of double of above.
Lose no ti#e, I pray you( to ad"ise=.ichardson.
%n ad"ising may have been avoided as ambiguous.
:gotism has its root in the cardinal necessity by which each individual persists to
!e Rin beingS what he is.P:merson.
I do not despair to see Rof seeingS a motor public service.P3uernsey 'd"ertiser
Their 3ourneymen are far too declamatory( and too much addicted to su!stitute
RsubstitutingS vague and puerile dissertations for solid instruction.P1orley.
In the common phrase addicted to drink, drink is a noun( not a verb.
5is blackguard countrymen( always a"erse, as their descendants are( to gi"e
RgivingS credit to anybody( for any valuable uality.P$orrow.
Is he to !e !la#ed, if he thinks a person would make a wife worth having( to
endea"our Rfor endeavouringS to obtain herQP.ichardson.
d. If a deferred sub3ect( anticipated by it, is to be verbal( it must of course be
either the infinitive or a gerund without preposition.
4ortune( who has generally been ready to gratify my inclinations( provided it cost
her very little !y so doing...P$orrow.
The reason why many who as a rule use the possessive are willing to do without it after
verbs like pre"ent is perhaps this# in % pre"ented hi# going they consciously or
unconsciously regard both hi# and going as nouns( one the indirect( one the direct ob3ect(
as in % refused hi# lea"e RbackS
A -od!y /istory and Glossary
of the American *an!ua!e
It is difficult for many 0mericans to appreciate that they might now be speaking %erman had the
%reat .eferendum gone the other way. In post-revolutionary times :nglish and %erman were
both widely spoken and a single official language was thought to be needed. :nglish won the
.eferendum( but only 3ust. These days 0mericans generally consider their language to be racy
and to-the-point. $ut the fact is that it tends towards pomposity. !ot for nothing has it been said
that the 0merican language never uses a single word where two will sufficeV :ver since they
were liberated from under the heel of the :nglish empire( the 0mericans have been distancing
themselves from :nglish and have - in no small measure thanks to a certain 1r /ebster who had
a penchant for writing anti-:nglish dictionaries - grown this language of their own.
American %n!lish
At this moment in time Now
Immediately Immediately' ri!ht now' at once
Pri#acy 2pron. prye-vasee) Pri#acy 2pron. prih-vasee)
Automoile Car
Guys' fellers Peo$le
4or (e.g. color) 4our
One time Once
Two times Twice
4in5 2at the end of a gerund) 4in!
Anti4 2pron. ant-eye) Anti4 2pron. ant-ee)
6atri, 2pron. may-trix) 6atri, 2pron. mah-trix)
/oo+er Pro' $rostitute
Patriotic 2pron. pay-triotic) Patriotic 2pron. pah-triotic)
Wal+ 2pron. waak) Wal+ 2pron. wawk)
Route 2pron. row-t) Route 2pron. root)
Closet Cu$oard
To out (i.e. to expose or reveal) To oust
Oh' my !aawwwwd7 2usually used by affected
Sidewal+ Pa#ement
%le#ator *ift
6o#ies Pictures' films' flic+s
%scalator 6o#in! staircase
A$artment Flat
%t is intended to include additional exa#ples o"er course of ti#e
Gerund Gymnastics
As discussed in pre"ious #logs on participles, a gerund is a "er# !orm that ends in ing. 0hat di!!erentiates
a gerund !rom a present participle is that the "er# !orm acts as a noun when it1s a gerund. So you might
#e sin!s$
They sate$
The %ui& 'rown fo( 'ared at intruders$
There were no gerunds there, 3ust simple "er#s. You can use this !unny "er#4noun thing that1s a gerund to
change the !ocus o! the sentence, li*e this2
#e is sin!in!$
They !o satin!$
The %ui& 'rown fo( was 'arin!$
5,id you *now that a group o! !o)es is called a s*ul*6 Add that to your list o! group names, those o! you
who were playing along last autumn with the thesaurus game. 7ut & digress.(
The di!!erence #etween this #atch and the !irst #atch o! sentences is passi"e "oice. &n the !irst #atch, the
"er# acts on the noun2 he sings, they s*ate, the !o) #ar*ed. &n the second #atch, the "er# still acts on the
noun #ut the "er# has changed 5he is, they go, the !o) was(, and now there1s a noun in the predicate2
singing, s*ating, #ar*ing, Some !ol*s consider this "er# !orm to #e a 8complement9 to the "er# 8to #e.9
That 3ust means that the gerund pro"ides that action instead o! the "er#.
Gerunds can act li*e nouns in se"eral ways. They can #e the su#3ect o! the sentence and the su#3ect o!
the "er#.
Sin!in! is fun$
Satin! &an "ae you lau!h$
)arin! is how the fo( warns off predators$
Gerunds can also #e the o#3ect o! a preposition. &n !act, a "er# !ollowing a preposition must #e a gerund.
#is Tuesday evenin!s were spent 'y sin!in! with friends$
They were 'uoyed 'y their love of satin!$
The fo( warns off predators 'y 'arin!$
You1ll !ind this usage popular a!ter e)pressions li*e 8there1s no point in,9 8in spite o!,9 8loo* !orward to,9
and so !orth.
You can modi!y a gerund, 3ust li*e you can modi!y any other noun, with an ad"er# or an ad3ecti"e.
#e en*oyed sin!in! loudly$
#is loud sin!in! woe the nei!h'or$
They were satin! enthusiasti&ally$
Their enthusiasti& satin! involved lots of fallin! down$
The fo( was an!rily 'arin! at intruders$
The fo(+s an!ry 'arin! fri!htened intruders$
You1ll also !ind gerunds as part o! compound nouns, li*e these2
#is sin!in! voi&e was interestin!$
The satin! people ra&ed to the &enter of the rin$
The 'arin! fo( warned off predators$
&n those cases, you could lea"e the gerund out and still ha"e a "ia#le sentence. The gerund in these
instances !unctions as an ad3ecti"al modi!ier to the noun.
:ere1s a re"iew2
A gerund is an 8ing9 !orm o! a "er# that is the predicate o!
the sentence and acts as a noun.
A gerund can #e a noun that !orms the su#3ect o! the
A gerund must #e used !ollowing a preposition 5as
opposed to another "er# !orm(.
A gerund may #e modi!ied #y an ad3ecti"e or an ad"er#,
and it may #e used as part o! a compound noun.
You can !ind these #logs, a little in!ormation a#out my editorial ser"ices and me, and a collection o! pages
a#out my 8real9 li!e on my 0e# site, www.;
posted on Saturday !anuary "" "##$ %&'% A(
4ive types of phrases
/hen formulating sentences( students should use the five different phrases. $y using these
phrases( students can make their papers appear interesting( informative( and professional.
0 $re$ositional $hrase consists of a preposition and its ob3ect( and any other modifying
words. It can shows relationships and generally acts as an ad3ective or adverb. :'amples#
o 's reporters of infor#ation to the general pu!lic( 3ournalists must accurately
represent the people and events of which they write.
o 0uring the awards cere#ony( 0licia Aeys performed her latest hit single.
o ;or a paycheck e"ery #onth( she works five days a week.
0n infiniti#e $hrase may act as a noun( ad3ective( or adverb. It consists of the infinitive
6=to= plus the regular form of the verb7 and any other necessary modifiers. :'amples#
o To win a gold #edal( athletes must practice often.
o To perfor# at the cere#ony( singers auditioned in the fall.
o To attend classes at the school( participants must pay Y1(000.
0n a$$ositi#e $hrase renames the noun or pronoun that precedes it. :'amples#
o 5er article discussed )pears' new album( Britney( and her first feature film.
o Tom <ruise acted in a film( Aanilla 8ky( during "001.
o 8ur new coach( >ohn 8#ith( played professional hockey for O years.
0 $artici$al $hrase is a group of words that act as an ad3ective to describe a noun.
>nlike !erunds( these phrases are set off by commas. They generally end with -ing( -t(
-d( -ed( or -n. :'amples#
o *u!lished in &olling 8tone( Uenny :liscu's article coincided with the release of
$ritney )pears' single( =I'm 0 )lave H >.=
o ;or#ed in the late ,-50s( >" has become the most commercially successful Irish
band in the history of popular music.
o 6a"ing played soccer in college( Irofessor Uones teaches history and coaches our
soccer team.
0 !erund $hrase ends in -ing and acts as a noun. 4ollowed by a verb( the use of a
gerund does not reuire a comma. :'amples#
o )oaching hockey takes up most of Uohn )mith's time.
o 1inning a gold #edal is the biggest achievement for many athletes.
o *erfor#ing in co#petitions made her a champion dancer
writing. <lick on one of the above links to learn more about editing.
1. %rammar# Traditional .ules( /ord 8rder( 0greement( and <ase
Z "E. gerund
%erunds are verb forms ending in -ing that act as nouns. They can be the sub3ect of a sentence
6)kiing is her favorite sport7( the ob3ect of a verb 6)he en3oys skiing7( or the ob3ect of a
preposition 6)he devoted her free time to skiing7. %erunds can be modified like nouns 6That
book makes for difficult reading7. $ut they can also act like verbs in that they can take an ob3ect
6<onvincing him was never easy7 and be modified by an adverb 6/alking daily can improve
your health7. 1
gerund and possessives 6fused participle7. )ome people insist that when a gerund is preceded by
a noun or pronoun( the noun or pronoun must be in the possessive case. 0ccordingly( it is correct
to say I can understand his wanting to go( but incorrect to say I can understand him wanting to
go. $ut the construction without the possessive( sometimes called the fused participle( has been
used by respected writers for C00 years and is perfectly idiomatic. 1oreover( there is often no
way to [fi'\ the construction by inserting the possessive. This is often the case with common
nouns. Thus you can say /e have had very few instances of luggage being lost( but not ] of
luggage^s being lost. "
)ometimes synta' makes using the possessive impossible. <onsider the sentence /hat she
ob3ects to is men making more money than women for the same work. <hanging men making to
men^s making not only sounds awkward( but it reuires women^s at the other end to keep the
sentence parallel( and women^s simply does not work. Ierhaps for these reasons OC percent of
the >sage Ianel finds the phrase men making acceptable in this sentence( and another CD percent
find it acceptable in informal conte'ts. 8nly 11 percent re3ect it outright. C
5owever( when the construction is more complicated so that a word or phrase intervenes
between the noun and the gerund( the panel is less sanguine. 8nly "O percent accept the sentence
I can understand him not wanting to go( where the negative not intervenes between the pronoun
and the gerund. Thirty-one percent say this sentence is acceptable in informal conte'ts( leaving
HH percent who are naysayers. Ianel acceptance drops even further when the synta' gets more
complicated. 8nly 1D percent accept the sentence Imagine a child with an ear infection who
cannot get penicillin losing his hearing( where both a phrase and a clause intervene between the
noun child and the gerund losing. 0nd only 1B percent find this sentence acceptable in informal
conte'ts( so that DD percent re3ect it roundly. H
$e aware that sometimes nouns ending in -s can be confused with a singular noun in the
possessive. Thus I don^t approve of your friend^s going there indicates one friend is going( and I
don^t approve of your friends going there indicates that more than one friend is going. O
1ore at participles. D
1. %rammar# Traditional .ules( /ord 8rder( 0greement( and <ase

Z HB. participles
uses of participles. 0 participle is a verb form that can be used as an ad3ective and is used with
an au'iliary verb to form tenses and( in the case of the past participle( the passive voice. The
present participle ends in -ing 6going( running7. The past participle for many verbs ends in -ed
6created( walked7F other past participles have a different form( and often a different vowel( from
their base form 6made from make( ridden from ride( swum from swim7. The present participle is
used with be to indicate continuing action or state 6I am going. They were laughing. /e have
been talking7. The past participle is used with have to form past tenses 6/e have climbed. )he
had ridden. They have sung7 and with be to form the passive voice 6The floor is being scrubbed.
The ball was kicked. The car has been driven.7. 1
dangling participles. Iarticipial phrases are used chiefly to modify nouns( as in )itting at his
desk( he read the letter carefully where the sitting phrase modifies he. It is important to
remember that readers will ordinarily associate a participle with the noun or noun phrase that is
ad3acent to it. Thus readers will consider a sentence such as Turning the corner( the view was
uite different to be an error( for the view did not do the turning. 0 sentence like this needlessly
distracts the reader and would be better recast as /hen we turned the corner( the view was uite
different or Turning the corner( we had a different view. The problem of dangling participles is
treated more broadly under dangling modifiers. "
participles and absolute constructions. $e careful not to confuse a participial phrase that
modifies a noun with an absolute construction that employs a participle. The difference is
between sentences such as Taking down the poster( he went inside and The poster having been
taken down( he went inside. 0bsolute constructions can dangle where they please since by their
[absolute\ nature they do not modify a specific element in the rest of the sentence. 4or more on
this( see absolute constructions. C
participles as prepositions. 0 number of e'pressions originally derived from participles have
become prepositions( and you can use these to introduce phrases that are not associated with the
immediately ad3acent noun phrase. )uch e'pressions include concerning( considering( failing(
granting( 3udging by( and speaking of. Thus you can say without fear of criticism )peaking of
politics( the elections have been postponed or <onsidering the hour( it is surprising that he
arrived at all. H
participles as ad3ectives. 1any participles can also function as ad3ectives# an interesting
e'perience( an interested customerF the surprising results( the surprised researchers. $ut it is
often hard to tell when a participle is an ad3ective( especially with past participles. &inguists have
a number of tests for confirming an ad3ective. 5ere are four of them#
<an the word be used attributively 6i.e.( before the noun it modifies7( as in an intriguing offer.
<an it be used in the predicate( especially after the verb seem( as in )he thought the party boring
and 5e seems concerned about you.
<an it be compared( as in /e are even more encouraged now and The results are most
<an it be modified by very( as in They are very worried about this.
)ome ad3ectives pass more of these tests than others and are thus more purely ad3ectival.
;isastrous( for instance( passes tests 1( "( and C( but not H. /hen used as ad3ectives( most
participles pass all four tests( but modification by very is tricky. 4or more on this( see very and
past participles. D
Kou can tell that a past participle is really part of a passive verbPand not an ad3ectivePwhen it
is followed by a by prepositional phrase that has a personal agent as its ob3ect. Thus( the
participle married would be part of the verb in the sentence <huck and /endy were married by a
bishop but used as an ad3ective in the sentence <huck and /endy were happily married for
about si' months. To confirm the ad3ectival status of a participle( try transforming the sentence
to see if the participle can come before the noun# 4or about si' months <huck and /endy were a
happily married couple. B
The !ew ;ictionary of <ultural &iteracy( Third :dition. "00".
6U:.-uhnd7 0 form of a verb that ends in -ing and operates as a noun in a sentence# [Thinking
can be painful.\ 1
Continuous cate!ories stren!then diachronic theory
/hitney Tabor
4ri. 10#00-11#H0 $
:arly variable rule models 6e.g.( /einreich( &abov( and 5er,og 1?DE( /olfram 1?D?( &abov
1?D?7 proposed that uantitative information should be included in grammatical description(
although they put little constraint on what rules could be variable and what probabilities could be
assigned to the rules. .ecent studies in historical synta' 6e.g.( Aroch 1?E?( Iint,uk 1??1( Taylor
1??H7 push the notion much further by hypothesi,ing that probabilities are associated with highly
abstract syntactic parameters. Thus all the linguistic e'pressions a given parameter controls are
e'pected to e'hibit parallel uantitative change. :ven these =Jariable Iarameter= models(
however( stop short of proposing a link between uantitative properties of the data and the
choice about which parameters to activate. In this sense( uantitative and categorical information
remain neatly separated.
$y contrast( Tabor 1??O describes a model which predicts strong interaction between
uantitative and categorical features of grammatical representation. This model( implemented in
a <onnectionist network( may aptly be called a =<ontinuous <ategory 1odel= 6<<17 for it
replaces the discrete categories of standard grammars with clusters of points in a continuous
space. Two predictions about syntactic change distinguish <<1s from the Jariable Iarameter
models# 617 persistent uantitative change can lead to categorical changeF 6"7 the ordering of
categorical changes will reflect the distributional similarity structure of the data---if type $ is
intermediate between type 0 and type <( then a change from 0 to < will proceed via $. These
two claims are not at odds with the Jariable Iarameter models but they reflect a further
strengthening of the variationist hypothesis( since those models do not make any predictions
about the relative timing of categorical changes. :vidence for claim 617 has been provided by
Tabor 1??C( 1??H( and 1??O. 5ere( I show how data from the history of the :nglish gerund
support claim 6"7.
1any researchers have found evidence that over the course of the 1iddle :nglish period( the
gerund acuired an increasingly =verbal= character 6e.g.( Ioutsma 1?"C( 1osse 1?CE( Ta3ima
1?EO7. The -ung ancestor of the modern -ing first spread across a wider and wider set of verbs
6late 8:7( then began to occur in con3uction with prepositional complements 6c. 1"007( then with
direct ob3ects 6c. 1C007( and ultimately spread to passive and perfect constructions 6late 1O00's7.
0bney 1?EB notes that this chronology is consistent with a proposal by Uackendoff 1?BB that the
history of the gerund involved the accommodation of a series of successively more abstract JIs
under the scope of the gerundial affi'. I show how a <<1 implemented in a <onnectionist
network and trained on the distributional data generated by UackendoffL0bney's grammar(
correctly predicts the ordering of the changes. This result provides evidence that measurement of
relative similarity 6the bread and butter of <<1s7 is a crucial ingredient in grammatical
representation. It also indicates that variable parameter models would do well to replace the
parameter independence assumption with a claim about parameter interaction. 4inally it
illustrates a method for combining the structural insights of standard( discrete category grammars
with the historical modeling advantages of <<1s.
From Wi+ioo+s
8 %n!lish 8 6edit7
Parts of s$eech" 0 - 1 - " - C - H - O - D - B - E - 9 - 10 - 11 - 1" - 1C - 1H - 1O - 1D
%erunds are nouns built from a verb with an '-ing' suffi'. They can be used as the sub3ect of a
sentence( an ob3ect( or an ob3ect of preposition. They can also be used to complement a sub3ect.
8ften( gerunds e'ist side-by-side with nouns that come from the same root but the gerund and
the common noun have different shades of meaning. :'amples# breath and !reathing( knowledge
and knowing.
:'amples of gerunds as the sub3ect of a sentence are#
Backpacking is a rewarding
8tretching can loosen up
!o s#oking. 6I.e.( no
smoking is allowed L you
may not smoke here.7
0s an ob3ect#
/e all love to go !owling
on the weekend.
5e loves eating chips.
0n ob3ect of preposition#
They complained of hearing
strange sounds from the ne't
They sang about !eing eaten
by bears to allay their fears.
0nd as a complement to a sub3ect#
8ne of the most dangerous
things to do on the lake is
Partici$les are forms of verbs which are used as ad3ectives.
In present participles( you usually add 'ing' to the end. Therefore#
Talk becomes talking
>u#p becomes <u#ping
Dpen becomes opening
8ee becomes seeing
In past participles( you usually add 'ed' to the end. Therefore#
Talk becomes talked
>u#p becomes <u#ped
Dpen becomes opened
8ee becomes seen
!otice how the irregular verb see also did not have a regular past participle. 1ore irregular verbs
with irregular past participles are#
Be( !een
Break( !roken
9at( eaten
8lide( slid
0s with most irregular words( there is no good 'general rule' which applies( but often 'ed' is
replaced by 'en'.
0 Iarticiple is a word derived from a verb( participating the properties of a verb( and of an
ad3ective or a nounF and is generally formed by adding ing( d( or ed( to the verb# thus( from the
verb rule( are formed three participles( two simple and one compoundF as( 1. ruling( ". ruled( C.
having ruled.
:nglish verbs( not defective( have severally three participlesF which have been very variously
denominated( perhaps the most accurately thus# the Imperfect( the Ierfect( and the Ireperfect.
8r( as their order is undisputed( they may he conveniently called the 4irst( the )econd( and the
The Imperfect participle is that which ends commonly in ing( and implies a continuance of the
being( action( or passion# as( being( acting( ruling( loving( defending( terminating.
The Ierfect participle is that which ends commonly in ed or en( and implies a completion of the
being( action( or passion# as( been( acted( ruled( loved( defended( terminated.
The Ireperfect participle is that which takes the sign having( and implies a previous completion
of the being( action( or passion# as( having loved( having seen( having writtenF having been
loved( having been writing( having been written.
The 4irst or Imperfect Iarticiple( when simple( is always formed by adding ing to the radical
verbF as( look( looking# when compound( it is formed by prefi'ing being to some other simple
participleF as( being reading( being read( being completed.
The )econd or Ierfect Iarticiple is always simple( and is regularly formed by adding d or ed to
the radical verb# those verbs from which it is formed otherwise( are either irregular or redundant.
The Third or Ireperfect Iarticiple is always compound( and is formed by prefi'ing having to the
perfect( when the compound is double( and having been to the perfect or the imperfect( when the
compound is triple# as( having spoken( having been spoken( having been speaking.
5e is tal+in! to her.
They are 1um$in! into the
/e had eaten the pie.
:ach of these cases has a verb acting as an ad3ective( describing the sub3ect.
In case you were wondering( 'had' plus a past participle is called a $ast $erfect.
0 part of the te't in this article( was taken from the public domain :nglish grammar =The
%rammar of :nglish %rammars= 6http(EEwwwguten!ergnetEetextE,,F,27 by %oold $rown( 1EO1.
.etrieved from =http#LLen.wikibooks.orgLwikiL:nglish#Iarticiple=
Interacti#e Phrase :ui0 ;<
1. 1arta fell o#er the cat(
a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional
phrase e. clause f. participial phrase
". Pretendin! to e aslee$( the hiker escaped the bear.
a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional
phrase e. clause f. participial phrase
C. )usan )arandon( a famous actress( has been very supportive of the striking workers.
a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional
phrase e. clause f. participial phrase
H. To finish the marathon in less than fi#e hours is Tom's goal.
a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional
phrase e. clause f. participial phrase
O. )he preferred eatin! at the local deli for lunch.
a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional
phrase e. clause f. participial phrase
D. 5e should discover a gift certificate for dinner at Cafe Sofia under his seat at the table.
a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional
phrase e. clause f. participial phrase
B. 0fter learnin! the $arts of s$eech( the class began studying punctuation.
a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional
phrase e. clause f. participial phrase
E. The candidate elected y the #oters promised to put =a chicken in every pot.=
a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional
phrase e. clause f. participial phrase
?. /ill someone be here soon to o$en the doorQ
a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional
phrase e. clause f. participial phrase
10. -eli#erin! the $i00a on time became his single mission.
a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional
phrase e. clause f. participial phrase
11. The woman who led the wor+sho$ used to be a math teacher.
a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional
phrase e. clause f. participial phrase
1". Frustrated with the delays( :rin tried to break her dog out of uarantine.
a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional
phrase e. clause f. participial phrase
1C. Tom visited India while studying the history of Indian art.
a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional
phrase e. clause f. participial phrase
1H. While she loo+ed ehind the house( the rest of us searched the local parks for the puppy.
a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional
phrase e. clause f. participial phrase
1O. Tom 5anks( star of &Philadel$hia( will be appearing in a new film this holiday season.
a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional
phrase e. clause f. participial phrase
1D. $efore $uttin! too much effort into the $ro1ect( maybe you should get some guidance from
your boss.
a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional
phrase e. clause f. participial phrase
1B. The car that -e#on sold to the dealershi$ has been wrecked twice.
a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional
phrase e. clause f. participial phrase
1E. ;oes the captain want us to lower the sails before we enter the harborQ
a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional
phrase e. clause f. participial phrase
1?. )he liked the shirt !i#en to her y her !randmother.
a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional
phrase e. clause f. participial phrase
"0. ;id you really think that roin! a an+ would solve your problemsQ
a. infinitive phrase b. appositive c. gerund phrase d. prepositional
phrase e. clause f. participial phrase
To ta+e the second interacti#e =ui0 on $hrases' $lease turn the $a!e(
The gerund phrase includes the gerund and the ob3ect of the gerund or any modifiers
related to the gerund.