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Difference Between Gerund and Participle

Gerund vs Participle

Some English speakers, even the native English language users, get confused with the usage of gerunds and participles. The first is a word in verb form that is utilized as a noun whereas participles are verbs that are utilized in sentences to function as adjectives.

Gerunds are known as verbal nouns. This means that it has the “-ing” ending. It is used to express a more general action that is usually incomplete. For example, “He thinks of resigning soon from his current job.” In this sentence, the gerund is the word “resigning.” This word is clearly a verb as its basic verb notation is “retire.” However, if you closely examine the sentence, the gerund immediately follows the preposition “of,” which makes it an object. In this context, “resigning” is also accepted as a noun. This is also the reason why some grammarians consider gerunds as simply the combination of a verb and a noun.

Participles are a different story because it possesses qualities of both adjectives and verbs. Like normal verbs, it can have a voice and a tense. So participles are the combination of verbs and adjectives. For example, “A retired teacher does free community service during weekends.” In this particular sentence, the participle is the word “retired.” It is by nature a verb because it appears to be the past tense for the base verb “retire.” However, “retired” also functions as an adjective for it qualifies or describes the noun “teacher.” Another example is, “Stay away from falling objects.” The participle is “falling.” It is a verb but acts as an adjective because it describes the word “objects.” With this, a participle is also termed as a verbal adjective.

A more confusing example that makes use of both the gerund and participle is, “I was pissed by Mike’s persistent interrupting.” The verb “interrupting” is a gerund because it acts like a noun (persistent interrupting as a kind of specific behavior). If you write the above sentence in this manner, “I was pissed by Mike persistently interrupting,” then “interrupting” already becomes a participle because it qualifies the person (noun) Mike.

One distinguishing factor, though, is the use of punctuation marks like commas. Gerunds often do not need additional punctuation because verbs must not be separated from their objects or subjects. Most participles make use of commas to help in the modification of the noun. This is seen in the last example.

Clearly, it is much easier to spot participles from the more elusive gerunds because looking for words that become the object to other words is usually a more complicated concept to understand.

Summary:

1.A gerund is the combination of a verb and a noun.
2.A participle is the combination of a verb and an adjective.
3.For many, the use of gerunds is often seen as the harder one as opposed to the use of participles.


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