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Jan 12, 2017

The Difference Between a Gerund and a Present Participle.

What is a Gerund?
 Due to the numerous questions I got on this, I decided to write this article. The first thing you should know is that both gerund and present participle are verbs. They are the -ing/continuous form of a verb, e.g. walking, running etc. However, not all 'ing' verbs are gerunds.

What is a Present Participle?
A present participle is an 'ing' verb that functions as a verb or as an adjective. In other words, when an 'ing' verb functions as either a verb or an adjective, it is called a present participle.
Examples:
o   She is teaching the students the genres of literature.
o   Could you please tell me about your teaching experience.

In sentence one, the 'ing' verb, 'teaching' is functioning as a verb whereas in sentence two, it is functioning as an adjective(that is, it is qualifying the noun, 'experience'). Therefore, 'teaching' can be called a present participle in both sentence one and two.

What is a gerund? 
On the other hand, a gerund is an 'ing' verb functioning as a noun in a given sentence.
Example:
·           Teaching is a good profession.

In the above sentence, 'teaching' is functioning as a noun, so it is a gerund.

Another 'ing' verb that can function as a verb, an adjective and a noun is 'running.'

Examples:
I am running to my house. (verb)
The running water is not clean.(adj)
Running can be tiring at times.(noun)

In sentence one and two, 'running' is a present participle because it is functioning as a verb and an adjective respectively.

In sentence three, 'running' is a gerund because it is functioning as a noun in the sentence.

Other examples of 'ing' verbs that can be classified as present participle and gerund are: walking, praying, standing etc.

In sum, a gerund is an 'ing' verb that functions as a noun whereas a present participle is an 'ing' verb that either functions as a verb or an adjective. It is also important to note that whereas all 'ing' verbs can be present participle, not all 'ing' verbs can be gerund.
  
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