Gerund & Present Participle

What is the difference between a gerund and a present participle?

Both a gerund and a present participle come from a verb, and both end in –ing. However, each has a different function.  A gerund acts like a noun while a present participle acts like a verb or adjective.

Example: snowboarding

Snowboarding can be a gerund or a present participle.

When snowboarding is a gerund, it acts like a noun. It can be a subject, an object, the object of a preposition, or a subject complement.

1- Snowboarding is a winter sport.   [snowboarding = subject]
2- I love snowboarding.    [snowboarding = object ]
3- I am excited by snowboarding.   [snowboarding = object of a preposition]
4- One popular sport is snowboarding.   [snowboarding = subject complement]

When snowboarding is a present participle, it is part of a continuous verb tense.

1- Right now, the athlete is snowboarding.   [is snowboarding = present continuous]   
2- He was snowboarding yesterday afternoon.   [was snowboarding = past continuous]
3- Tomorrow, my friends and I are going to be snowboarding.   [are going to be snowboarding = future continuous] 

Unlike a gerund, a present participle can act like an adjective that modifies a noun or follows the be verb.

Example: exciting

An exciting time was had by all!

The word exciting is a present participle used as an adjective to modify a noun or to follow the verb to be.

1- The exciting ride made the people scream.   [adjective + noun]
2- People enjoyed the exciting roller coaster.   [adjective + noun]
3- The roller coaster is exciting. [be verb + adjective]

Now YOU try: Look at the sentences below. Decide whether the underlined –ing word is acting like a noun, part of a verb, or an adjective. (Answers below)

1- What an amazing movie! I want to watch it again!
2- Speaking English well takes a long time.
3- He cares about getting a good job.
4- Shh! I am trying to sleep.
5- My friends and I were sitting in a café and talking.
6- The directions were very confusing.
7- They have been studying for a long time and want to take a break.
8- She loves traveling.

Answers: 1) adjective, 2) gerund, 3) gerund, 4) verb, 5) verb & verb, 6) adjective, 7) verb, 8) gerund

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