Gerund Phrase | Examples & Definition

Nouns and Pronouns updated on  April 1, 2024 3 min read

A gerund phrase is a group of words that begins with a gerund (the “-ing” form of a verb that acts as a noun) and includes any of its objects and modifiers (e.g., “walking to school”). Gerund phrases act as nouns in sentences.

Gerund phrase examples
Running an online business is more difficult than people assume.
My biggest priority is learning how to code.
Do you like cooking new recipes?

What is a gerund phrase?

A gerund is a word derived from a verb that ends in “-ing” and acts as a noun in a sentence (e.g., “baking,” “swimming,” “buying”). So, a gerund phrase is a group of words that begins with a gerund and includes any of its objects and modifiers (e.g., “eating too many sweets”).

Gerund phrases often include adjective or adverb modifiers that give further information about the gerund. Often, though not always, these modifiers are in the form of prepositional phrases.

Gerund phrases with modifiers examples
Luis enjoys swimming in the lake near his house.
Travelling with an infant is very stressful.
Eating too quickly can cause heartburn.

Gerund phrases also often include direct objects (which receive the action of the gerund) and indirect objects (which receive the direct object), even when the gerund itself is an object.

Gerund phrases with objects examples
Tori regrets losing her bus pass.
I miss giving my dog a hug every morning.
Painting serene landscapes is his specialty.

Using gerund phrases in sentences

Like gerunds, gerund phrases act as nouns in sentences and can be subjects, objects, or subject complements (which rename or identify the subject after a linking verb).

How to use gerund phrases

Role in a sentence

Gerund phrase example

Subject

Swimming in the ocean is risky.

Direct object

I love making new friends.

Indirect object

Ewan gave running barefoot a try for three weeks.

Object of a preposition

She is so tired of waiting for someone to call her back.

Subject complement

My favorite pastime is knitting scarves for all my friends.

When a single gerund phrase acts as the subject of a sentence, it always takes a singular verb, even if the phrase also includes plural nouns. If multiple gerund phrases form a compound subject (e.g., “cooking dinner and washing the dishes”), a plural verb is required.

Subject-verb agreement with gerund phrase examples

Finding eagles and condors is rare.
Finding eagles and condors are rare.

Writing essays and conducting research are essential academic skills.
Writing essays and conducting research is an essential academic skill.

Gerund phrases vs participle phrases

Participle phrases (or participial phrases) look similar to gerund phrases, but they function differently in sentences. Gerund phrases act as nouns, while participle phrases act as adjectives to modify a noun or pronoun.

Gerund phrase vs participle phrase examples
Talking loudly and excitedly, the teenagers made plans to go to the concert.

I like talking about music with my friends.

There are a couple of clues that can help distinguish participle phrases from gerund phrases. First, if the phrase is followed by a comma, it is most likely a participle phrase. Additionally, gerund phrases can be replaced by nouns, while participle phrases cannot.

Replacing gerund phrases with nouns example

Traveling to Spain is one of my goals for this year.
Travel is one of my goals for this year.

Traveling through Spain, Milo decided to learn Spanish.
Travel, Milo decided to learn Spanish.

Recommended articles

Do you want to know more about reasoning, rhetoric, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.


Reasoning

Rhetoric

Common mistakes

Begging the question fallacy

Foreshadowing

Bestest

Hasty generalization fallacy

Logos

Calfs or calves

Appeal to pity fallacy

Enjambment

Dieing or dying

Slippery slope fallacy

Double entendre

Led vs lead

Ad hominem fallacy

Pathos

Weather vs whether


What is the difference between a gerund phrase and a participial phrase?

Both gerund phrases and participial phrases begin with the “-ing” form of a verb (e.g., “running,” “eating”).


However, gerund phrases act as nouns in a sentence (e.g., “Running long distances is a great stress reliever), while participle phrases act as adjectives to describe a noun or pronoun (e.g., “Running quickly, Matt tried to catch the bus”).

What is the difference between a gerund and a gerund phrase?

A gerund is a noun that is derived from a verb, using the “-ing” ending (e.g., “swimming,” cooking”).

A gerund phrase is a group of words that begins with a gerund and includes any of its modifiers or objects (e.g., “swimming in the ocean,” “cooking dinner every night for my friends”).

Both gerunds and gerund phrases act as nouns in sentences and can be subjects, direct objects, indirect objects, objects of prepositions, and subject complements.

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Kayla Anderson Hewitt

Kayla has a master's degree in teaching English as a second language. She has taught university-level ESL and first-year composition courses. She also has 15 years of experience as an editor.

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