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A handy hybrid

By Debra Dobbins

Although I beg to differ with Stephen Colbert's accuracy in quoting Shakespeare, the English teacher in me is rejoicing at the thought of explaining a gerund. (Countless readers undoubtedly are sharing my joy.)

A gerund is a hybrid of a noun and a verb. It always ends in “ing.” Though it sounds like a verb, it works as a noun. It can be used as a subject, direct object, indirect object and object of a preposition. Examples:

Subject: Taking good photographs is really his forte. (Complete subject: Taking good photographs)
Direct object: They like hiking.
Indirect object: They give finetuning ample time in the production process.
Object of a preposition: I beg to differ with Stephen Colbert's accuracy in quoting Shakespeare.

One must really understand nouns and verbs in order to distinguish between gerunds and participles. Participles also end in “ing” but they are verb forms. In the first paragraph I included two: “is rejoicing” and “are sharing.”

Pop quiz: Can you spot the gerund in this quote from Jane Austen? And in which novel is it? (Answers tomorrow.)


``'You judge very properly,' said Mr. Bennet, 'and it is happy for you that you possess the talent of flattering with delicacy. May I ask whether these pleasing attentions proceed from the impulse of the moment, or are the result of previous study?'''


Jane Austen
Special to the Sentinel


 

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