Never Let Gerunds and Present Participles Ruin Your Day again!!

Pep Talk India, English Grammar, gerund

These alien sounding words. Complicated as they may sound, they actually are simple concepts we use in our everyday language. It’s only by identifying them, can you use them correctly and never get stuck!

There are some basic differences that can be easily identified if you remember the following points:

Present participles are words that work as ADJECTIVES and are formed from Verbs.

Present participles (just like past participles) can be used as adjectives or used to form verb tenses. For example:

The verb: to smile
The present participle: smiling
The present participle used as an adjective: The smiling boy
The present participle used to form a verb tense: The boy was smiling.

It is really common to see present participles in participle phrases. A participle phrase also acts like an adjective.

  1. My mother is next to the lady wearing the red shawl. (The participle phrase wearing the red shawl describes the lady.)
  2. I know a pond teeming with fish. (The participle phrase teeming with fish describes a pond.)
  3. Frantically shuffling through her loose change, Jhanvi hoped to find another silver coin. (The participle phrase Frantically shuffling through her loose change describes Jhanvi.)

Here are some real-life examples of present participles (underlined) being used as adjectives:

  1. Always be wary of any helpful item that weighs less than its operating manual. (Terry Pratchett)
  2. Somewhere on this globe, every ten seconds, there is a woman giving birth to a child. She must be found and stopped. (Sam Levenson, 1911-1980)
  3. Love is the big booming beat which covers up the noise of hate. (Margaret Cho)
  4. All existing business models are wrong. Find a new one. (Hugh Macleod)
  1. Gerunds, on the other hand, are NOUNS formed from verbs.


They’re very easy to spot since every gerund is a verb with ing tacked to its tail. There are no exceptions to this rule. The problem here is that present participles also end with the letters ing. Besides being able to spot gerunds, you should be able to tell the difference between a gerund and a present participle.

So, How does one know the difference between these 2 similar looking forms of Verbs? It’s really simple!

Remember that gerunds are words that are formed with verbs, but act as nouns.

Present participles do not act as nouns. Instead, they act as modifiers, complete progressive verbs or adjectives.

To find gerunds in sentences, just look for a verb + ing that is used as a noun.

  1. Swimming in the ocean has been Sanna’s passion since she was five years old.
  2. Let’s go dancing at the club tonight.
  3. I’ve been dreaming of summer all winter long.
  4. Harpreet decided that flying above the clouds was the most incredible experience she’d ever had.


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