Gerund, Infinitive, and Participle

These are all different forms of verbs. A gerund is a verb ending in “ing” that is used as a noun in a sentence. There are a lot of times when you’ll see a noun that is actually a verb form. Don’t hesitate to also check our 236 free and powerful practice tests

The next lesson: Adjectives in a Series, both lessons are included in Practice Tests.

The following transcript is provided for your convenience.

We admired the vocalist’s singing.”

In this sentence, they were admiring the vocalist’s singing. They were admiring something, which makes this a noun. But, “singing” is also a verb. So, this is a gerund because it is a verb used as a noun in this sentence.

Running is my favorite hobby.”

Running” is also a verb, but in this sentence, “running” is the noun. This is my favorite hobby, this thing. So, “running” is a gerund in this sentence.

The infinitive is a singular verb preceded by the word “to“, which is considered the base, or unconjugated form of the word.

So, let’s look at some examples.

She loves to sing.”

So, this is the infinitive form of the verb “sing“. It isn’t conjugated, it hasn’t been changed to past tense. It hasn’t had a suffix added to it yet, it’s got the word “to” in front of it, so it is an infinitive. “She loves to sing.”

I love to run.”

So, if you see a verb that has the word “to” in front of it, it’s a good chance that that’s in the infinitive form of that verb.

And, participles are verbs that end in “ing“, like gerunds, and form the progressive tense of the verb. But, participles are not used as nouns. So, that’s the difference between the gerund and the participle. A gerund is going to be used as a noun in the sentence, a participle is not.

The sleeping baby is snoring.”

Sleeping” is a participle. It has the “ing” ending, and it’s used in the sentence that lets you know the baby is sleeping, but it doesn’t say “The baby is sleeping.”

The running motor sounds loud.”

Running” is also a verb, but in this sentence, it’s got the “ing“, and it isn’t used as a verb. “The running motor“. It lets you know the motor is running, but it doesn’t say, “The motor is running.” The verb in this sentence is “sounds“. So, “running” and “sleeping” act more as adjectives in this sentence, and not all participles are going to act as adjectives, but they are going to end in “ing“, and they’re going to tell you what’s going on with the noun in the sentence without actually behaving as the verb in that sentence.

So, whenever you’re reading, and you’re trying to figure out parts of speech in certain sentences, gerunds, infinitives, or participles, because if you know a word is a gerund, then you’ll say, “Oh, I know this word is a verb that’s used as a noun.” Or if you see a noun being used as a verb, “Oh, this is a gerund.”

So, knowing those things can help you finish diagramming the rest of the sentence. If you know that one word, even though it looks like a verb, is a noun, then you will be able to find your actual verb. Such as “is“, which is a “be verb”. They may not be as easy to identify since it isn’t an action verb. So, don’t be confused by the fact that “running” is an action, and “is” is just this little “be” verb.

Infinitives, make sure that you’re watching for that clue word “to“. If you see “to” before a verb, then you’re probably looking at the infinitive form.

And participles, look for the “ing” ending, where the verb is not being used as a verb in that sentence. It’s being used as an adjective or some other word, and you actually have a different verb, and it’s going to end in “ing“, but not behave as a noun.

So, when diagramming sentences, it’s going to be important that you can tell the difference between a noun and a verb and an adjective, and sometimes, verbs look like other things, even though it’s going to look like a verb, it’s going to behave like a noun, or going to behave like an adjective. So, just pay close attention, because verbs are not always going to behave like verbs.

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The next lesson: Adjectives in a Series, both lessons are included in Practice Tests.


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