How Do We Identify Gerund Phrases in a Sentence?
Questions introduced by verbs in sentences can be answered using gerund phrases. For example, what is your favorite pastime? (Playing a game with friends.) What does she like? (Dancing in her bedroom.)
To identify it in a sentence, first look for a word that ends in -ing. But the -ing word must do the function of a noun. If a word ends in -ing and does the work of a noun, then it is a gerund. If a it is followed by an object (direct or indirect) or any modifier, the whole group of words will be a gerund phrase. It doesn’t matter where the it appears in a sentence, but it must satisfy the rules.
The following examples will help in identifying gerund phrases in a sentence.
She likes dancing in her bedroom.
In this sentence, the -ing word is dancing, and it does the work of a noun, i.e., a gerund.
The modifier in this sentence is ‘in her bedroom.’ The gerund plus its modifier in this sentence make the gerund phrase dancing in her bedroom.
- Playing cards with friends is our favorite pastime.
- The doctor doesn’t recommend taking a pill with less water to sleep early at night.
Identifying Gerund Phrase Simple Trick
To test a group of words is a gerund or not, replace that group of words with one of these words someone, something, this, or that. Since all these words are nouns and a gerund phrase can be exactly replaced with these words. If a group of words isn’t replacing these words correctly, that will not be a gerund phrase. For example
Drinking alcoholic beverages will make you ill.
Is this sentence’s group of words properly replaced with the above words? Let’s remove the entire gerund phrase and replace it with those words.
Someone will make you ill.
Something will make you ill.
This will make you ill.
That will make you ill.
The above group of words is correctly replaced with these words, so it is a gerund phrase.
Let’s look at one more example
What the baby truly loves is drinking tea by the feeder.
Here in this sentence, ‘drinking‘ is the -ing word followed by its object ‘tea‘ and a modifier ‘by the feeder.’
Is it a gerund phrase? Again, replace with those words, i.e., What the baby truly loves is someone/something/this/that. Yes, it.
The following group of words contains an -ing word with modifiers, but it isn’t a because it doesn’t satisfy the gerund phrases rules. Also, if we replace this with a noun word, it doesn’t make any sense.
Drinking alcoholic beverages, Saleem and Ali fell asleep.