Gerunds may look like verbs, but these words and phrases act like nouns. Actions may be verbs, but activities are nouns, (consider hobbies that end with -ing, for instance). Think about the -ing like any other suffix: it’s added to the end of a word to alter its part of speech. Insights to English uses these perspectives when approaching Gerunds.

What to Expect

Gerunds look like verbs because they are based in verbs and have –ing endings. But they act like nouns. That might seem strange at first, but consider that there are plenty of other word endings that alter the part-of-speech of a word. -ing is a suffix that turns verbs into nouns.

To take a closer look at gerunds (and nouns in general), we’ll get into the properties of nouns, the ways they can be modified, and the various roles they fill in a sentence.


Learners should already be familiar with the following:

Nouns can be people, animals, places, things, ideas, or emotions. The video explores how activities and events are also nouns. It’s also helpful (but not necessary) if students know the different roles a nouns can take: subject, direct object, indirect object, object of a preposition, and predicate nominal (subject complement).

other Parts of Speech, especially Verbs. Adjectives, adverbs, prepositional phrases, and determiners are also good to know.

-ing Forms of verbs. They won’t be applied here, but simply recognizing them progressive/continuous tenses is a good place to start.

Phrases are groups of words that come together to serve a single purpose. Within the sentence, a phrase acts as a part of speech (noun, verb, adjective, or adverb) even if the words that make up that phrase are not that same part of speech.

Suffixes are endings like –tion, –ness, –ly, and so on that alter a word so that it becomes a different part of speech. Learners don’t need to know many suffixes, or even any particular ones, but knowing just a few so that they get the idea is fine.

Proficiency Level

Students at the A2 level might be expected to be familiar with Gerunds. They’ll likely start studying them at a Pre-Intermediate level (or 3rd out of 6).*

*actual starting level varies from one course-book series to the next

Bonus Notes

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Participle Adjectives

While Gerunds are nouns that look like verbs ending in -ing, Active Participle Adjectives are adjectives that look like verbs ending in -ing.
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Verb Patterns

Gerunds are sometimes used in Verb Patterns; they can be the complement to the main verb.
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