Talk:Gerund

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Drinking problem much[edit]

I don't believe in gerunds - I think this concept is a confusion between form (verb) and function (subject, object etc). However, after reading what's here, perhaps you ought to clarify the following. You have the following discussion:

"In an episode of Dan Vs., "The Ninja", after Dan's milk carton exploded from the ninja's shuriken, a teenager said to Dan "Drinking problem much?" and Dan complained that the sentence had no verb, just a gerund.[citation needed]"

Surely "drinking" here is a present participle being used "adjectivally" (whatever that means). In any event, "problem" is not the object to "drinking", so I don't think it can be a gerund. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 128.250.86.130 (talk) 06:12, 22 May 2014 (UTC)

Stop V-ing vs. stop to V[edit]

"forget, remember, stop" followed by to-V or Ving:

Surely 'to-V' after stop is an infinitive of purpose which is independent of the verb. It can be used with many verbs:

  • I came to learn.
  • I write to make money.
  • I eat to live.
  • I live to eat.
  • I dress to kill.
  • I shoot to kill.
  • etc.

Perhaps 'stop' should be deleted, and a note about infinitive of purpose added, somewhere. Irpond 08:37, 16 April 2004 (UTC)

to is not generally analysed as an "infinitive of purpose". According to most syntactic theories it's just a tenseless auxilluary verb. When used as an adjunct rather than an object (as in your examples), an infinitive clause has a purposeful interpretation, e.g. "I came to learn" means roughly "I came in order that I might learn". However, in examples like "I forgot to eat", the infinitive clause "to eat" is not an adjunct, it is the object of the verb forgot. This is why it no longer has the purposeful interpretation, i.e. it doesn't mean "I forgot in order that i might eat". Note that in all your examples, the verb could have an object in addition to the adjunct infinitival clause: "I came here to learn", "I write novels to make money", "I eat food to live", etc., whereas this is not possible in a sentence like "I forgot to come". Cadr
Right. So shouldn't 'stop' be deleted here? As you point out, "I've stopped to smoke" could be "I've stopped work to smoke." Irpond 13:16, 16 April 2004 (UTC)
Oh I see what you mean, sorry. Yes, let's delete it...Cadr
OK I've deleted them. Might be good to add a note about sentences like "I stopped to smoke" as you suggested in your first comment (which I misunderstood quite a lot, sorry). Cadr
Thanks. Now I can sleep with a clear(er) conscience. Irpond 13:44, 16 April 2004 (UTC)


So in the sentence, "By reading the newspaper daily, you will become an informed citizen," is reading a gerund? If so, is it a subject, direct object, predicate noun, or object of a preposition? Tgannon (talk) 02:33, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

It is a gerund after the preposition "by". 122.106.169.76 (talk) 22:55, 2 April 2009 (UTC)

Use of the gerund in conditional clauses[edit]

When used in conditional clauses, the to-infinitive is used, and never the gerund.
For example:
It began to rain. or It began raining.
I love to sleep. or I love sleeping.
I would like to go there. (not going)

Is this some sort of prescriptive degree from on high? I don't see anything wrong with saying "I would like going there." It is a little awkward and would probably only come up in a discussion of a conditional or hypothetical situation, but I don't think it is ungrammatical. Bkonrad | Talk 12:47, 16 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I agree, it seems factually inaccurate. Cadr
Yes. "If I were bolder, I would begin/continue/start editing this article" seem perfectly natural, if not preferable. Perhaps 'would hate/like/love/prefer' are usually followed by the to-infinitive. Irpond 14:06, 16 April 2004 (UTC)

It seems the distinction is more about meaning than grammar. "I would like to eat there" shows a kind of will or intentionality. "I would like eating there" sounds more like a musing or consideration rather than expression of will.

Also, the heading and beginning of this section are confusing. There don't appear to be any conditional clauses used as examples here. Cellmaker (talk) 18:44, 23 November 2009 (UTC)

Mistake in section 1?[edit]

Hi. According to the Online Writing Lab at Purdue, "-ing" words function either as adjectives, in which case they're called present participles, or as nouns, in which case they're called gerunds.

In your first section, "Tenses of the Gerund", I think all the examples function as adjectives: "Cutting the rope" and "Having cut the rope" describe the person, and "Being cut" and "Having been cut" describe the rope. So they're present participles, not gerunds.

Do you agree? -Zac.

Hi². Zac: Whether cutting the rope is a gerund or not depends on where you put it: in "You are cutting the rope", cutting is a participle; in "I have no objection to your cutting the rope", it's a gerund.
But I have another problem with Section 1: it says,
'Properly speaking, the English gerund only occurs in the present tense. The gerund cannot occur in any other tenses. All other verbal nouns in English are expressed with the infinitive. For example, "to have loved and lost is better than not to have loved at all."'
First of all, there's nothing incorrect about the gerundive paraphrase of the example: "Having loved and lost is better than not having loved at all." Second, isn't that having loved a gerund in the present perfect? In English that's generally considered a different tense from present tense, so there's another problem with the simple statement that gerunds are present-tense only. Compare "I have no objection to your cutting the rope" and "I have no misgivings about your having cut the rope." --tc
I'm with -tc here. Gerunds are not defined by their form; they are defined by their function. A gerund is a noun in verb form (or similar verb phrase). To eat is good. Here, to eat is a gerund, but in infinitive form. Eating is good (continuous form). To have eaten would have been good (past infinitive). It is true that gerunds in English usually end in -ing, but this is not the defining characteristic. Other languages don't have the continuous form gerund. (French uses the infinitive form. It's still a gerund.) My 2¢. Cellmaker (talk) 06:28, 30 March 2013 (UTC)
Please cite an authoritative source for your assertion that "a gerund is a noun in verb form". Thank you. -- Hoary (talk) 11:15, 8 April 2013 (UTC)
Properly speaking, the English gerund only occurs in the present tense. ¶ This is indeed poppycock. -- Hoary (talk) 11:18, 8 April 2013 (UTC)

Latin[edit]

This article focuses exclusively on the English gerund. That's all well and good, but if you try to link to gerundive in a discussion of the Latin gerundive (not quite the same as the gerund), it brings you here. We need to have a discussion of gerunds in other languages, and we need to remove the gerundive redirect. --69.245.192.52 00:47, 15 Jun 2005 (UTC)

I second this. I searched wikipedia for 'gerundive' expecting to find something other than 'gerund'. This redirect is false and misleading, as is the use of the word 'gerundive' throughout the article to mean 'pertaining to the gerund'.
--benjamindees
The redirect from gerundive seems to have been removed, and I just went through and changed "gerundive" to "gerund" everywhere in this article. There's still the problem that this article doesn't mention any other languages, though honestly, I'm not sure if any other languages have "gerunds." (Other languages with multiple different verbal nouns are usually said to have multiple different infinitives.) Any thoughts? Ruakh 06:10, 27 December 2005 (UTC)
While I am by no means an authority (still very far from fluent, in fact), it appears that Japanese has gerundial forms (at least, that is how my study text explicitly refer to certain grammatical forms... I came here in fact to brush up on my understanding of precisely what "gerund" was) Nevermind. It appears to me now that my text is using 'gerund' to refer more to participle verbs, and even makes the comment "We call it gerund so as to make concepts clearer, but it very often often works differently to [sic] the English gerund". The upshot is that I don't know after all whether Japanese has true gerundial forms or not.--Tenmiles 07:47, 15 July 2006 (UTC)
If you are referring to the Japanese て-form, it is more similar to the gerund of romance languages than to that of English (in particular, it cannot be used as a verbal noun, which is perhaps what can cause confusion for students who only have experience with English). 87.11.58.144 11:01, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

Gerunds vs. Participles[edit]

I second the suggestion that in the sentence "having x'ed, I went home", "having X'ed" is not a gerund. It is quite clearly a participle, since it modifies the subject of the sentence, I. 24.12.166.84 03:55, 18 June 2005 (UTC)

Gerunds vs. Participles 2[edit]

"Watching golf Susan thinks is tedious." English? OSV? --Henrygb 17:12, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)

It's a topicalised phrase. For example, it could be embedded in the following context: "Susan likes watching cricket, I admit, but watching GOLF, Susan thinks is tedious". Slightly awkward in most contexts, but I'm sure you can find examples like it in corpora. Cadr 20:37, 23 Jun 2005 (UTC)
Wouldn't it be better to put it as 'Watching golf is tedious thinks Susan'? Mikkel 01:00, 4 October 2005 (UTC)
Why not just 'Susanne thinks watching golf is tedious'? 216.232.63.213 18:25, 8 November 2005 (UTC)
Because that's not an example of gerund? --Tenmiles 07:49, 15 July 2006 (UTC)
Well, it's still an example of a gerund; the problem is that it's not an example of topicalizing a gerund by moving it to the front of a sentence, which is the point of the section that example is in. Ruakh 13:14, 15 July 2006 (UTC)
Can someone help me (I am, unfortunately, neither an apt nor studied linguist) understand? Wouldn't "watching" in the example I replied to be as much a verb as "running" or "sleeping"? I am not challenging your statement, merely attempting to better understand gerund and what makes that particular use a gerund. --Tenmiles 01:49, 17 July 2006 (UTC)
A gerund is a verb; specifically, in English at least, it's a verb ending in -ing that's used as a noun (i.e., it's the subject, direct object, or indirect object of a verb, or the object of a preposition, or a noun complement). This is distinguished from a present participle, which is also a verb, and which is identical in form, but which is used as an adjective. Watching, running, and sleeping are all gerunds, and they're all present participles as well; in Susan is watching golf, watching golf is an adjective describing Susan, and hence a present participle phrase, whereas in Susan hates watching golf, watching golf is the direct object of hates, and hence a gerund phrase. Does that make any sense? Ruakh 02:33, 17 July 2006 (UTC)
"watching golf is the direct object of hates, and hence a gerund phrase. Does that make any sense?" -- Yes, in fact, it does. Thanks. I think I understand it a bit more clearly now. My impression of what qualified as a gerund was too limited. --Tenmiles 07:27, 17 July 2006 (UTC)
"Her playing of the Bach fugues was inspiring. (playing takes a prepositional phrase rather than an object; not a gerund)" I don't understand. "playing" is clearly a noun here. Doesn't that make it a gerund? Kostaki mou (talk) 01:57, 1 May 2013 (UTC)
Yes. Playing is the gerund of play: an occasion on which something, such as a song or show, is played. –
 – Gareth Griffith-Jones |The Welsh Buzzard|— 09:12, 1 May 2013 (UTC)
I dare say different definitions can be found, but for me, this is a verbal (or "deverbal") noun, not a gerund. A gerund is half-verb, half-noun (a verb in that it takes objects etc. like a verb does; a noun in that the resulting phrase as a whole functions as a noun within the larger sentence). So in "her playing the fugues", playing is a gerund (it takes an object like the verb plays would), but in "her playing of the fugues", it's a pure noun (like "performance" or "rendition"). Victor Yus (talk) 10:33, 1 May 2013 (UTC)
Thank you Victor. That makes it perfectly clear to me now.
Do you consider it worth revising the article accordingly? –
 – Gareth Griffith-Jones |The Welsh Buzzard|— 12:09, 1 May 2013 (UTC)

Is all this encyclopedic?[edit]

I question whether all the information in the article is really encyclopedic. Most of the information under Verb patterns with the gerund seems better suited to Wiktionary (in the form of usage notes at the relevant verbs); and while some the information in Some differences between gerunds and the present participle does seem encyclopedic, the section currently reads like a list of tricks for distinguishing the two — something you'd expect in a study sheet, perhaps, but not in an encyclopedia. (Incidentally, some of the verbs listed Verb patterns with the gerund actually take present participles: "go on," for example.) Ruakh 23:38, 2 February 2006 (UTC)

From the point of view of a linguist, I don't see these as "tricks" but as facts about English grammar. Word classes are, after all, defined by their distributions. However, whether facts about English grammar are encyclopedic is an open question so far as I can see (though I guess the absolute basic facts, such as the fact that English is poorly inflected and has canonical SVO word order, obviously are encyclopedic?) Cadr 14:30, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
Well, first of all, I didn't say that the information in that section was unencyclopedic, only that the section reads like a list of tricks. I mean, the first sentence of the section is "The term 'gerund' is sometimes used incorrectly to mean any word ending with 'ing'"; I find it hard not to see an implied "This list will help you determine whether a given 'ing' word is in fact a gerund."
But the bigger thing, I guess — which I didn't actually mention before, but was on the tip of my finger — is that most of these are really just differences between nouns and adjectives in English. It might be worthwhile to note that you can do these things with gerunds, especially the "noun phrase paraphrases" one, but I don't think it's worthwhile to present this as a difference between gerunds and participles, rather than simply as a fact about gerunds.
Ruakh 15:54, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
I don't see that the distinction paralells the noun/adjective distinction, since non-gerundive -ing forms aren't adjectives. Can you explain further? Cadr 20:38, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Re: "[...] non-gerundive -ing forms aren't adjectives.": I don't know what you mean by this. By all accounts, English's -ing ending marks both gerunds, which are verbal nouns, and present participles, which are verbal adjectives. Do you have a different understanding? If so, please elaborate! (Also, this is a side note, but I don't suppose you'd be willing to stop using gerundive to mean gerundial? It's not wrong to so — Webster's, at least, says that gerundive can indeed be used to mean gerundial — but it's terribly confusing, at least for me, because gerundive's principal meaning is somewhat related but really quite different; see Gerundive. Thanks in advance!) Ruakh 21:08, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
I don't know what a "verbal adjective" is supposed to be. Present particple -ing forms behave in all respects as verbs and in no respects as adjectives, just like past participles. (For example, you can't modify them by "very": "* I am very asking you to leave".) It may be the traditional terminology to say that they're in some sense adjectival, but it's just plain wrong and doesn't explain anything about the difference betweeen gerunds and present participles.
Point taken re "gerundive". Cadr 21:18, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
Both present and past participles function in many respects as adjectives. You're right that they don't generally get modified by very, but that's true of most adjective constructs that center around non-adjectives: "* a man very who is wet", "* a man very at work". They definitely do modify nouns: "We passed three men wearing red"; "We went to the zoo and saw a man-eating tiger"; "He made an infuriating assumption"; etc.
There are some cases where -ing verb forms (gerunds? participles?) are used where other nouns/adjectives couldn't; "to keep verbing" is different from "to keep noun", and "* to keep adjective" doesn't exist (except in certain fixed expressions, such as keep cool and keep warm, and when an object is implied, such as in set yolk and white aside; keep separate). However, I think these are the minority.
Ruakh 23:30, 16 March 2006 (UTC)
OK. "a man-eating tiger" is an instance of an adjectival use of an -ing form, but in those cases its not a present participle, it's a verbally derived adjective (like "planned" in "a planned economy"). You can see that it's functioning in a fundamentally different way from a present participle from the impossibility of compound present participles ("* I am man-eating Bill"). Ordinary present participle -ing forms, which are compared to gerundive -ing forms in the sections you don't like, do not modify nouns. "who is wet" is a relative clause, not an adjective. "at work" is a prepositional phrase, not an adjective. It is very common in traditional grammar to say that these things are all "adjectival" in some sense (presumably just because they're all predicative) but to say so explains very little about their different distributions. In modern descriptive syntax, none of these things would be analysed as an adjective.
All of that is partly an issue of terminology. The point is that saying that participles are adjectives and gerunds are nouns doesn't explain their distribution. For example, adjectives can marginally undergo clefting: "It's dead you'll be if you stick your hand in the toaster", but present participles can't at all. Adjectives can be chained together ("a small, red book") but present participles can't ("* John is reading, smiling"). If you say that they're adjectives, you then have to say "but they don't behave like ordinary adjectives in the following 10 respects", rendering the claim terminologically possible but really rather vacuous.
The one thing that present participles and adjectives have in common is that they are both predicative (in contrast to gerunds, which aren't). This does mean that they behave in the same way in some respects. For example, neither can be the subject of a passive ("I kept quiet", "* Quiet was kept by me", "I kept reading", "* Reading was kept by me") and both can be used as secondary predicates ("John fell from the plane terrified", "John fell from the plane screaming"). But present participles have a peculiar distribution all of their own which is not even close to the distribution of adjectives overall. Cadr 04:42, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
I disagree with most of what you've written, and I'm starting to suspect that neither of us is going to convince each other of very much, so I think this discussion may have gone as far as it's going to go. :-/ Ruakh 05:53, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Well, I'm sorry for that. I think the problem is that you're coming from the perspective of traditional grammar, which tends to be based on descriptively categorising different words, whereas I'm coming from the perspective of modern descriptive syntax, which is mostly concerned with predicting the distributions of words. So for me, it makes no sense to say that something is adjectival unless it actually patterns with adjectives. Cadr 09:44, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
Oh, it's not your fault; I'm just saying. And there's more to it than the difference in perspectives (though I'm sure that's part of it); I also disagree with some of your comments about the distributions of participles vs. ordinary adjectives. It's really not worth the continuing debate, though, as I'm not sure it really affects what the article should say. Ruakh 17:59, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

I stopped to smoke[edit]

"I stopped smoking" and "I stopped to smoke" are not structurally analogous in the way that "I like smoking" and "I like to smoke" are. The difference in meaning between the two "stop" sentences has nothing to do with differences between "to smoke" and "smoking". In "I stopped to smoke", "to smoke" is an adjunct, not the object of "stop". This is shown by the following facts (using "to read" instead of "to smoke", because "I stopped smoking to smoke" makes no sense, though it is grammatical):

  • I stopped to read a book
  • I stopped smoking
  • I stopped smoking to read a book
  • * I stopped to read a book smoking (cannot mean the same as the previous sentence)

"to read" does not need to be adjacent to the verb because it is not an object, whereas "smoking" is an object and consequentially does need to be adjacent to th verb. Now look at the following data:

  • I like to smoke
  • I like smoking
  • I like smoking to start the morning
  • * I like to start the morning smoking (grammatical but cannot mean the same as the previous sentence)
  • I like to smoke to start the morning
  • * I like to start the morning to smoke (ungrammatical and cannot mean the same as the previous sentence)

This shows that "to smoke" is the object of "like" in the first sentence, and "smoking" is the object of "like" in the second sentence. Thus, the difference between "I stopped smoking" and "I stopped to smoke" is simply that "smoking" is an object in the former, but "to smoke" is not an object in the latter.

Sorry this is a bit complicated; it's quite hard to actually show these things properly, but the data are very clear. Cadr 21:14, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Answer[edit]

Salutations,

Let me see if I understood your point (Note: I am not a native English speaker, and I'm not trying to argue with you, I am just seeing if I understood you correctly). So, as you said, the phrases "I like to read" and "I like reading" have the same meaning and structure ("to read" and "reading" are both objects), but "I stopped to read" and "I stopped reading" are different, because "to read" is not an object but an adjunct. But, besides the grammatical difference, is there a semantical difference? I. e., "I stopped reading" is analogous to "I interrupted the action of reading"; but would "I stopped to read" be analogous to "I stopped, so that I could read" (the former using an adverbial adjunct of purpose, finality and the latter using a subordinate adverbial sentence of purpose, finality)?

Thank you in advance. Sanscrit1234 (talk) 15:55, 6 January 2009 (UTC)

Flawed example: "go on V-ing" vs. "go on to V"[edit]

The example given to contrast the uses of "go on" followed by a gerund or a to-infinitive

  • After winning the semi-finals, he went on to the finals.

is clearly inapposite: "to the finals" is not an infinitive but a prepositional phrase. I suggest changing it to

  • "After winning the semi-finals, he went on to win the finals as well." (He won the semi-finals, then later won the finals.) -- Dodiad
Yes, good call. I'll fix it. Ruakh 19:21, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

Infinitives as Gerunds[edit]

Can't infinitives be gerunds? Do gerunds have to end in -ing, or are they just verbal nouns? For example, in "To rule is to destroy," "To rule" is the subject, and "to destroy" is the predicative nominal, both infinitives acting as nouns. "Ruling is destroying" means basically the same thing, and those are counted as gerunds. Can someone explain? Thanks. Lifeboat 20:22, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

In English, gerunds are specifically verbal nouns ending in -ing. You're correct that in many contexts, gerunds and infinitives are interchangeable; but the terms gerund and infinitive are not. Ruakh 20:55, 1 June 2006 (UTC)
Okay, thanks! Lifeboat 23:21, 1 June 2006 (UTC)

Bit of self-reference in the intro[edit]

I'm just thinking the example phrase might be better off as a more generic example. Even though it's indirect, it still stands as a self-reference of sorts that might not make sense in printed form. Would anyone mind if we changed it to something else? Or have any suggestions as to what to change it? Or thinks I'm just being picky? :) Whatever that case, I know we're supposed to avoid self-reference on wikipedia, and it wouldn't hurt to change that I think. Errick 14:20, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

You're right that Wikipedia discourages self-references, but this one isn't explicit — the example would still make sense in any other context, it just wouldn't be a self-reference anymore. I really don't mind if you change it, but I really don't think it's a problem if it remains. Ruakh 14:34, 31 August 2006 (UTC)

Question about prepositions and gerunds[edit]

I added a couple examples before coming and checking out the talk page, which was probably a little bit backwards. Regardless, does anyone know anything about prepositons that are followed by gerunds? (Particularly in the construction "verb someone into/out of verbing")

129.2.211.62 03:07, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

Well, since gerunds function as nouns, pretty much any preposition can take a gerund as its object. "To foo someone into bar-ing" is generally to get him/her to bar by foo-ing at him/her: "he talked her into leaving" means "he talked to her and convinced her to leave"; "they conned him into giving them his money" means "they conned him, getting him to give them his money"; and so on. —RuakhTALK 05:01, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

Predicate?[edit]

can you have a gerund as a predicate noun or nomnative? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 68.217.14.5 (talk) 01:43, 23 April 2007 (UTC).

Yes; it's rare compared to other uses, but you can say, for example, Love is never having to ___ (where ___ is a bare infinitival phrase of your choice; see http://www.google.com/search?q=%22love+is+never+having+to%22). —RuakhTALK 03:36, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

Verb patterns with gerunds[edit]

I don't think an exhaustive list of verbs normally followed by gerunds can be made. Many of the verbs in that list are ones that I see without gerunds more often than with. Perhaps you meant to say that when a gerund is the D.O. the preceding verb is usually one on the list. But I'm not sure that's true either.

I think that any transitive verb that can take a D.O. that isn't a physical object can have a gerund for an object. I can't think of a counterexample. I'm sure that any transitive verb that can have a clause as an object can take a gerund.

-- John Bickner --216.137.65.32 19:30, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Hi, thanks for your comment. What's actually happened is that the list started out as a fairly short list of verbs that very often take gerunds as direct objects, and a long stream of readers has thought of other verbs to add to the list that don't actually benefit it at all. By this point, it could do with some cleaning out. —RuakhTALK 22:20, 29 June 2007 (UTC)

Template:limitedgeographicscope[edit]

I removed the Template:limitedgeographicscope from the article a couple days ago, and it's been reinstated by an anon IP from Italy, with an edit summary implying that all English Wikipedia articles dealing with grammatical terms must exhaustively detail the usage of the linguistic form in other languages. Implicit in this is that any article that does not will stand accused of anglocentrism or neglect of global perspective.

To give some examples of other articles on grammatical forms in English Wikipedia, Noun has no descriptions or examples of noun usages in other languages. Transitive verb has some examples of Polish usage, a description that is by no means complete, and which serves only to point out to the reader that some languages may do it similarly, others differently. The article on intransitive verb has some examples in Italian, which again serve only as a brief illustration of how it's done in one other language. Dangling modifier has no examples of usage, and debate about usage, in other languages.

As can be seen from the above examples, it's completely discretionary case-by-case as to what extent different usages in other languages are represented in the article. This is the English Wikipedia here, and examples of other languages worldwide merely serve the purpose of giving the reader a broader perspective on the term gerund fits globally into the structure of other languages. A simple statement in the article to the effect that not all languages have gerunds is quite adequate to put the article in a global perspective for the reader. This article already states the issue right in the very first paragraph, as follows:

In linguistics, a gerund is a non-finite verb form that exists in many languages. It functions as a verbal noun in some languages, including Latin and English, but not in others, such as Italian, Spanish and French.

This is more than adequate to make the point that it is used in some languages other than English, but not others. Therefore, I'm removing the template. If other editors care to expand into more in-depth examples of use, or lack thereof, in other specific languages, I presume they will be added in due course. ... Kenosis 23:06, 8 July 2007 (UTC)

Re: "[…] all English Wikipedia articles dealing with grammatical terms must exhaustively detail the usage of the linguistic form in other languages": I think we all can agree that that's not the case, but there's a middle ground between only covering English and exhaustively covering all languages. Note that this is more important for this article than for many linguistics articles, because the term gerund is applied very differently to different languages, so an article that only covers English gerunds doesn't merit the title "Gerund". Therefore, I'm restoring the template. —RuakhTALK 03:16, 9 July 2007 (UTC)
We should in general use examples from English when possible since most readers have experience with English. If there is a notable difference of how different languages approach the same grammatical entity than we should note that. In this case, I don't see any reason to include other languages other than to note that their use of gerunds are essentially the same (a source for that would be nice) JoshuaZ 15:29, 9 July 2007 (UTC)
I agree with your first two sentences. Your last sentence makes no sense to me, because other languages' uses of "gerunds" aren't essentially the same, nor even remotely similar, so I don't see why we would say they are. —RuakhTALK 15:55, 9 July 2007 (UTC)
And how was the gerund used in Hittite? How is it used Albanian? Does it exist in Choctaw? What is the equivalent in Zulu? Do Altaic languages use a gerund, and if so is the use consistent throughout? Was the use of the gerund consistent in Greek, from Ancient through modern? What about in Latin? What does Chinese use to function as a gerund? Why don't you write a book on gerunds?
Unless you can answer all of those questions authoritatively, abiding by WP:RS, do not restore the template. •Jim62sch• 17:59, 9 July 2007 (UTC)
Just to be sure — this is a joke, right? You might want to be careful using sarcasm online; the tone of voice doesn't come through, and at first glance I thought you were being serious. —RuakhTALK 21:18, 10 July 2007 (UTC)
I think you have it backwards; logically, the template is needed as long as we lack the information it asks for, and should be removed once that information is provided. BTW, if you look at the section titled "Latin" on this page, you'll see that users had in fact been calling for a treatment of the gerund in other languages.
Speaking of which, in my experience native English speakers are most likely to become interested in grammar and linguistics when trying to learn a foreign language, while they consider formal knowledge of grammar largely unnecessary for speaking their own. Therefore it seems quite likely that a significant percent of the people who look up the article on gerund on the English wikipedia are actually looking to apply that information to the study of other languages. --87.16.194.120 22:10, 10 July 2007 (UTC)
Re: "implying that all English Wikipedia articles dealing with grammatical terms must exhaustively detail the usage of the linguistic form in other languages. Implicit in this is that any article that does not will stand accused of anglocentrism or neglect of global perspective", I'm left to wonder whence you are pulling all of that. Certainly not from the edit summary, which simply stated "read the article, it still covers English only, unlike other pages on grammar concepts"; nor from the longer explanation that was given on your very own talk page, which I quote:

I'm not sure it was a good idea to remove the "limitedgeographicscope" template from the page about the gerund. That page used to give the incorrect impression that the gerund works in all languages in the same way as it does in English. The addition of the first sentence fixed the incorrectness of the page's perspective, but not its limitedness: the body of the page still focuses exclusively on the gerund in English. In contrast, the pages about other grammatical terms usually discuss the subject across languages, in addition to English specifics. Following that standard, it seems that the limitedgeographicscope template should be reinstated on the gerund page for the time being. 87.13.254.25 15:35, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

I don't know if "no strawmen" is a Wikipedia policy per se, but I'm pretty sure it's part of assuming good faith
Re: "To give some examples of other articles on grammatical forms in English Wikipedia, Noun has no descriptions or examples of noun usages in other languages." - Actually, Noun gives a broad treatment of the subject from a general linguistic perspective, including a bit of history. It also mentions Latin, Sanskrit, Ancient Greek, Russian, Czech, Slovenian, German, Hebrew, Portuguese, French, Spanish, highlighting differences from English where appropriate (and including a few examples, contrary to what you said). It's a very different situation from that of this article, especially before the most recent changes.
Re: comment flow; I'm pretty sure I've seen paragraph-based replying used on talk pages before, but it's not big deal to use a different form. I can only hope you've had a look at the contents, too.
While we're still on this: I'm not the person who originally inserted the template, so I don't know what improvements that person thought the article required. I did add the first mention of non-English languages (and the first mention of the gerund not being a noun in all languages, which is a vital point if the article is to be at least truthful) in the form of an introductory sentence, but I did not remove the template, because I did not expect my changes to fully satisfy the person who had inserted it. Soon after, Kenosis saw the template, saw that first line that I had added, and decided that it was enough to justify removing the template. When I saw that, I reinstated the template, explaining the rationale on his talk page (he has not bothered replying so far). Apparently, Kenosis took my act as a mortal offense to his nation and ancestors; however, that was not my intention. I hope that knowing the full background will quell his rage somewhat. --87.16.194.120 21:46, 10 July 2007 (UTC)
Hey look. I happen to be from the US, and am a strong advocate of global perspective. There is a difference between resisting integration of international and multi-lingual perspectives, and supporting multi-lingual perspectives but resisting unnecessary templates. Templates have a tendency to languish for long periods of time waiting for people to do the actual hard work, and they have a tendency to imply something's wrong with the article, which is not the case here, especially not now that Ruakh has done a bunch of new work on the article. So this is by no means an anglocentric bias. But I will say this: I notice that Polish and Lithuanian, among others, are not mentioned in the article on noun, nor are much more widely used languages like Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Hindi. Now, arguably that reflects a Eurocentric or Western bias. Try putting a "limitedgeographyscope" template on that article and see what happens. The most expedient course of action here, IMO, would be to continue letting these articles develop of their own accord, expanding as useful and interesting insights are added by editors over time. Sometimes too much is added on one language, as happened at ellipsis, which presently has brief summaries of usage in Polish and Japanese, and a "main article" link to Ellipsis (Polish) to accommodate the extra material for that language. There are plenty of options here and plenty of room to allow the global and multilingual perspectives to continue to be added to the body of knowledge in WP. ... Kenosis 00:30, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
If you reference foreign languages to give a broader understanding of the subject, it makes sense to use languages which are more familiar to a reader who speaks English, all else being equal. While trying to exemplify a specific point, it risks being obscured by the presence of other unfamiliar characteristics, such as the use of a foreign script. Nevertheless, Chinese examples are used where necessary, for example in Count noun.
The article about Ellipsis looks like a horrible mess indeed. In fact, I'd say it needs urgent attention... I would add a template to it, but I don't know which one would be most appropriate. --62.211.231.26 16:09, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
Yes, for one thing ellipsis is broader in scope than the mere three successive dots typically used to indicate it, so the difficulty is quite understandable. I'm sure it'll improve in due course (though I don't have the time to dig in on it right now). Perhaps a {{cleanup}} template would be appropriate at that article. ... Kenosis 17:14, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
Limited geographic scope is mostly a problem when it's misleading. In the case of this article, the limited geographic scope was a problem because it made it sound like gerunds were a specific linguistics concept that exists in many languages, but with slight differences in some languages (e.g., a verbal noun in one language but a verbal adverb in another). In other words, the article was missing vital information, and tried to hide the fact. I think this is now fixed, in that while the article is still missing vital information, it's now quite obvious that it is. So, I think the template is no longer necessary, not because the article is fixed, but because the problems are now obvious enough that the template is practically implicit in the text of the article. (Of course, this isn't standard practice — we still put "cleanup" templates at articles whose formatting problems are obvious — but I think it works in the case of a page like this one, which isn't bad, just incomplete.) —RuakhTALK 01:19, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
Well, nice forward progress on that last set of edits. To be sure, WP is still in it's very early childhood. And thanks to the fellow in Italy for challenging my assumptions. It's all for a good cause. ... Kenosis 01:35, 11 July 2007 (UTC)

Gerunds in Latin[edit]

The analogous distinction is very clear in Latin, where gerunds and participles are declined as nouns or adjectives, but the line is blurrier in English, and many modern linguists reject this distinction.

This sentence seems to be trying to say, in a very oblique way, that gerunds and participles were different from each other in Latin. If so, then it should just come out and say it, rather than tip-toeing around the issue. If not, I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. FilipeS 13:37, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

Yeah, that's what I was trying to say with that. I didn't intend for it to be oblique or tip-toe-y; if you think it is those things, please fix it. (Be careful, though; keep in mind that according to traditional grammar, they're also different from each other in English.) —RuakhTALK 17:23, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

By different I mean morphologically different -- they look different. Not just different meanings... (Unlike the English gerund and the English present participle, which always coincide in form.) Is this what you meant? FilipeS 17:35, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

Well, in Latin the gerund and the participles proper always look different, but masculine and neuter forms of the so-called "future passive participle" (gerundive) are identical to the gerund (at least, in those cases where both exist). What distinguishes them is that the gerundive displays gender agreement with its subject (identifiable because it has distinct feminine forms), while the gerund is always neuter. (Also, the gerundive can appear in the nominative and vocative — it takes whatever case its subject does — while gerunds can only be used in the various oblique cases.)
However, since the gerundive is only kind of a participle, we can just disregard it. Or, we can be more precise, and say that in Latin, the gerund and the present active participle were different in form; that's true, and the main relevant fact.
RuakhTALK 18:26, 17 July 2007 (UTC)
And, to elaborate a bit — the point of that sentence is not just to explain that in Latin there's a clear difference, but also to explain that in Latin one is clearly nominal and one adjectival (because they're declined accordingly), which is reflected in the traditional analysis of English. —RuakhTALK 20:46, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

O.K., but you should try to make that point better in the article. A couple of examples would help. FilipeS 23:00, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

A few general questions[edit]

Hello,

I have a few questions about the grammar in the "Gerunds in English" section. First, there is a statement "in the clause Editing this article" or something to that effect. However, that is a phrase, as there is no subject or verb.

Also, it states that the gerund is the object of a few prepositions. However, every verb which follows a preposition must be a gerund.

Thanks, Horlo 04:49, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

Re: your first point: It's a "phrase" according to old-fashioned grammar (which, inexplicably, is what they still teach in grade school), but a "non-finite clause" according to modern linguistics.
Re: your second point: Yeah, I'm not quite sure what's up with that, but really the solution is to get rid of the extraordinarily long list of verbs and extraordinarily short list of prepositions that can take gerunds; both lists are woefully incomplete, and the article would gain nothing from a complete list. Rather, we need to give a few representative examples.
RuakhTALK 15:08, 2 October 2007 (UTC)
Hello, about the non-finite clause, do you think that it would be good to either mention that in the article, or just use phrase, as that is what most people still use?
Also, all verbs that follow all prepositions have to be gerunds. Would it not be good to say that, and then put a few examples? Thanks, Horlo 17:04, 3 October 2007 (UTC)
Re: "non-finite clause": Yeah, we should mention that.
Re: "all verbs that follow all prepositions have to be gerunds": Except, of course, that the preposition to is used to introduce infinitives. :-)
RuakhTALK 18:06, 3 October 2007 (UTC)


Yes, but in that case, it's not used as a preposition, but as an infinitive. That's the tricky thing about verb+gerund and verb+ infinitive. Also, when explaining purpose, it's the difference, when explaining purpose, between "she went for cigars" and "she went to buy cigars". I think that that is the way most people understand it.
How about this as phrasing: "in the phrase/non-finite clause". Then we could give a brief explanation of how gerunds are used in comparison to infinitives. Thanks, 69.158.155.43 22:52, 6 October 2007 (UTC) Sorry, not signed in Horlo 22:52, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

Pronominal substitution[edit]

The table says that pronominal substitution is grammatical with the participle, but I don't think it is...'John kept it' my be a valid English sentence, but not if the referent is 'asking bill' ('John kept doing it would be the usual substitution). Maybe that's what's implied by 'radically changes the meaning' above, but since we're talking substitution, I really think it should be marked as ungrammatical...

Moszczynski 17:33, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

Fixed. MeteorMaker (talk) 16:57, 23 June 2008 (UTC)

Spanish gerundive?[edit]

Greetings. I have cleared the reference to a Spanish gerundive, since the only non-personal verbal form with adjetival function in Spanish is the (past) participle. Indeed, the term gerundivo is in Spanish a reference to the gerundive of other languages, not a connection with gerund. Pallida  Mors 13:26, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Following an adjective[edit]

Does one say,

I am not loath to take a person off the street into my home. I am not loath to taking a person off the street into my home.

Obvi for the Commonwealth folks it's Loth.

But should it be followed by an infinitive or a gerund? Arthurian Legend (talk) 16:12, 10 April 2008 (UTC)

Loath takes the infinitive. (By the way, loath is the usual spelling in both the UK and US.) 2.25.135.23 (talk) 18:48, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

New Section Recommendation[edit]

I propose a section addressing languages limited by an absence of gerunds.Mavigogun (talk) 11:28, 6 August 2008 (UTC)

Gerund Headline?[edit]

I searched and searched but did not find any reference to the so-called "gerund headline," an ungrammatical sentence like "Russia pressing free-trade agreement." My understanding is that the correct form reads "Russia is pressing a free-trade agreement." Given how widespread this mis-use is among news casters, some words of clarification in the article would be most appreciated. 128.32.82.78 (talk) 21:27, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

You are mistaken, the "correct form" reads "This is a story about Russia pressing a free-trade agreement", like "I helped with John taking the rubbish out" - roughly speaking, "John taking the rubbish out" is as "the washing" in "I helped with the washing" where "John taking the rubbish out" is a noun phrase treating an event as a thing. It is not a sentence, so the newspapers are correct. An article about sausages, for example, might be titled "Sausages". TristanDC (talk) 02:48, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Error: Gerunds vs. Participles[edit]

Correct me if I am wrong, but under the short subsection 'Gerunds preceded by a genitive', the 'gerund' preceded by the objective appears to be a participle. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 41.241.200.6 (talk) 12:31, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

Give a verbing[edit]

I do not see any examples of "The old woman gave the children a telling off" or am I mistaken that this the gerund? TristanDC (talk) 02:35, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Article Gutted[edit]

Article was massively gutted without explanation. I will restore unless explanation is given here.Mavigogun (talk) 20:07, 23 December 2008 (UTC)

While the article may have the tone of a guide, the content mostly serves to illustrate what the subject -gerunds- are, and is topical. Rather than blanking or removing large portions with no alternative, I suggest the material be re-written for non-guide-like tone. When developing content, Wiki rules should be a constructive tool- not a pretext for injudicious editing. The rules serve the article- not the other way around.--Mavigogun (talk) 08:00, 25 December 2008 (UTC)

"gerunding" a word.[edit]

What is the correct way to describe a word which had been modified to make it a gerund? -- can you say a word has been gerunded? ( http://www.irregularwebcomic.net/comic.php?current=2475 led me to this thought ) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 220.253.168.93 (talk) 08:02, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

Verbing weirds language. 2.25.135.23 (talk) 18:48, 9 July 2013 (UTC)
Gerundised? Gerundified? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 82.71.30.178 (talk) 17:48, 22 November 2017 (UTC)

Telling the difference between Gerund noun and a verb[edit]

Sometimes the two can be confused a lot... how do you tell the difference and what are ways to foolproof confusion

ex. This is a wonderful piece of writing (writing is easy to determine that it is a gerund) but... Writing is vital to today's communication (this and others are harder to detect)

--808daman (talk) 21:00, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

The gerund is the noun that names the process of the verb (writing = the action of the verb "to write") so in fact, your second example is clearly a gerund while your first is not. 2.25.135.23 (talk) 18:48, 9 July 2013 (UTC)

Gerunds and Possessives[edit]

Could some knowledgable person please write a section on possessives? Specifically, I wish to clear up a common and irritating grammatical mistake along these lines:

1) "I remember HIM being old."
which is mistakenly used to say what the author really means,
2) "I remember HIS being old."
It is "the being old" that is remembered, not "I". It is important to remember that both sentences are valid but have entirely different meanings. If we re-cast sentence 1, we can see it: "I, being old, remember him." The choice between two sentnces is up to the author and is dictated by the intended meaning. Here's a demonstration of why it matters:
3) "I remember France being German."
versus
4) "I remember France's being German."
Obviously, sentence 1 can be re-cast to say "I, being German, remember France." A tourist? A Neighbor? A Soldier? Sentence 2 clearly means what it says: France was conquerred by Germans and became German and I remember that. More demonstartion:
5) "John is a man who remembers Christa being pregnant." Is a valid but non-sensical claim. What is meant is this:
6) "John is a man who remembers Christa's being pregnant."

--137.186.218.108 (talk) 17:26, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

These too will illuminate this issue:
1) "I can't stand Karla meddling." This is a valid and meaningful sentence, in two ways. First, it says that I can't stand Karla when she's meddling; I might even love her in general, but I can't stand her when she's meddling. Second, it says that I, while meddling, can't stand Karla (re-cast: "I, meddling, can't stand Karla.") This ambiguity makes it troubling, so it would be better written: "I can't stand Karla when she's meddling" if that is what the author means.
2) "I can't stand Karla's meddling." Ths is sentence is also valid and meaningful. It says something different though: It is the meddling that Karla does that I can't stand; I might not even mind someone else's meddling, but Karla's I cannot stand.

66.222.247.114 (talk) 17:36, 9 June 2010 (UTC)

Love and hate[edit]

I removed the sentence "In these examples [with begin, continue, start; hate, like, love, prefer], if the subject of the verb is not the subject of the second verb, the second verb must be a gerund (instead of an infinitive)." from the section Verbs followed by a gerund or a to-infinitive because it seems to be wrong or at least misleading: "I'd prefer him to do his homework" sounds perfectly reasonable to me. I also did some rearranging, but the begin, continue, start; hate, like, love, prefer subsections are still not as clear as they could be. --ἀνυπόδητος (talk) 15:36, 10 October 2010 (UTC)

What do you call a verb made out of a noun?[edit]

Hi, I was just wondering what the opposite of a gerund is? If a gerund is a noun made out of a verb, is there a word for a verb made out of a noun? Or are they just wrong? All I can think of are recently coined ones like "to google" and "to text", is there a proper grammatical term for them, or are they just ungrammatical? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 220.253.160.229 (talk) 23:17, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

A gerund is just one way of making nouns out of verbs. The general term is deverbal noun (deverbal = from a verb). Non-gerund examples include "the love" and "the hate". The opposite is a denominal verb: "to shelf something", "to eyeball someone", "to light something" etc.
Note that there are grammatical ways of forming words from others, like the gerund: a rule of thumb is that in these cases you have a single rule that always works. Every English speaking person can tell what "treading" means as soon as they know the verb "tread". On the other hand, you can't do this with a semantic derivation. You have to learn the meaning of "to text" even if you already know the noun "text", and you can't possibly tell what "to apple" means, should you encounter such a verb. I can't think of any good examples for semantically derived deverbal nouns, but I'm sure there are some... --ἀνυπόδητος (talk) 08:08, 26 March 2011 (UTC)
Thankyou for that. I'm so used to Google answering all my questions, they didn't have an answer for this one. I looked around and found a few more examples of denominal verbs: to parrot, to ferret, to film, to pocket, to shape, to house, to tape. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 220.253.160.229 (talk) 11:25, 27 March 2011 (UTC)
At a less erudite level than that of Anypodetos, one can verbify a word. 112.118.158.18 (talk) 16:34, 2 September 2012 (UTC)

Introduction[edit]

To explain the {{lead rewrite}} tag I added to the article: The intro is currently a big list, instead of a proper lead section. 'Gerund' may have different interpretations in different languages, but some sort of general intro should be formulated. – Acdx (talk) 08:34, 19 October 2011 (UTC)

Split proposal and question[edit]

As the lead suggests each language has it's own definition of what a gerund is or does. I think this article should be split into Gerund (or Gerund and Gerundive) and Gerund in English as the latter section is mature/large enough to be in its own article.

Participles (as adjectives) in English have a curious feature that the object or preposition, if a phrasal verb, can be put in front of the participle unhyphenated, hyphenated or even joined if a phrasal verb in a similar way to a noun adjunct, such as car driving, man-eating, and upcoming. I do not know if these are normal noun adjunct, but I have the feeling they are not. Can the same be done with gerunds? All sentences I try sound awkward. --Squidonius (talk) 09:06, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

I disagree with the split. This is a short article. What needs to be done is strees that point that the -ing form of modern English (which I'll just call the gerund) combines the functions of two previously separate verb forms, a verbal noun, and a present or adverbial participle.
I don't understand your other question. You ask "can this be done with gerunds"? You've just done it! FilipeS (talk) 10:59, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
To the first reply —I am truly grateful for both replies—, I was proposing a spit due to quality and not quantity. There is nothing wrong with short articles, on the contrary they are great for expansions. This may be a short article, but the focus of the article is currently heavy towards the gerund in Modern English, which is not what the title of the article is. If it reflected in content the opening it would be great (or at least Old English, Latin and Spanish/Italian).
On a second inspection, I am not sure of the content of the page. I appreciate that there is no mention of Old English grammar, which as you mentioned had a separate -ende form (verbal noun) and the -ing form (participle), but I think it is more alarming that there is a prescriptionist discussion of the objective pronoun plus gerund construct (called a half-gerund, I believe) and the section illustrating the differences between the to-infinitive and gerund is too long as the exceptions are self-evident if one translates these into Latin or a romance language.
I have an deep interest in linguistics, but it is not my area of expertise and I know I am jumping in here with comments and criticisms, but I do so to be helpful and please see it as a good thing that the topic is so interesting other editors descent to comment.
To the second reply, it was a triviality and I was hoping for a reference to read on "noun adjunct" + participle (as it does not feel like a normal noun adjunct, I am unsure of the term). The examples I gave work only as participles: "I have good car-driving skills" is fine, while "my car-driving has improved" sounds awkward to me. --Squidonius (talk) 12:09, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Gerundive[edit]

The confusion wit respect to the relationship between "gerund" and "gerundive" is still here and at Wik/gerundive, which simply says not to be confused with gerund. Kdammers (talk) 11:05, 22 March 2012 (UTC)

Article[edit]

This article isn't very clear for people who don't know what a gerund is. Can you first clearly state what a gerund is in english, and then tell us about what it means in other languages?KalWardin (talk) 19:53, 26 August 2012 (UTC)

a- form[edit]

Hi all,

Just wondering if there is any information about the antiquated "a-" form of a gerund as found in phrases such as "maids a-milking" and "geese a-laying." I'm sure there are other examples and maybe this form applies to verbs not in the gerund form as well but I can't think of any more examples. Anyway this would be an interesting topic to explore, and if there is any information about it I'd appreciate a point in the right direction.

Thanks! — Preceding unsigned comment added by XomokyH (talkcontribs) 17:23, 30 March 2014 (UTC)

Answer[edit]

For anybody interested this is known as Prothesis.

Term or thing?[edit]

There is more confusion and downright fear over the word gerund than almost any other grammatical label. Much of this is removed if we view it as a term, rather than a thing susceptible to definition and description.

If the article were essentially about the Latin gerund, then a lead beginning with a definition might be appropriate. But most of the article has always been about the so-called English gerund. And the section on the use of the term in other languages has been here for a considerable time. There was very little on the Latin gerund before I wrote a section. People look up gerund because they want to understand how the word is being used. They may think — falsely — that it's an observable thing found in languages as a whole and English in particular.

I've been told that it's a violation of the use-mention rule to say: Gerund is a term in Latin grammar This is nonsense. The words a term in Latin grammar constitute the use. A mention would be entirely different e.g. Gerund is derived tom the Latin verb agere. A second objection was that Gerund is a term in Latin grammar is like Computer architecture refers to the theory behind the design of a computer which should rather be Computer architecture is the theory behind the design of a computer. Well, yes, Computer architecture is a theory; gerund is a term.

The problem is that if you make the definition of gerund a starting point you get bogged down in arguments as to whether an English -ing form is a gerund, a participle, a noun or something else. This might be acceptable if the distinction was of some use. The leading reference grammars think otherwise. Quirk et al use the term participle for all non-finite -ing forms. Huddleston and Pullum use gerund-particple. Its true that once upon a time there was a formal distinction between participle forms and -ing forms, but even a work on English historical syntax (cited in the article) uses the term gerund-particple nexus with reference to contemporary English.

A further problem is that is you make the definition a starting point, it leads to dogmatic statements about instances of -ing usage which don't comply with the definition.

OK, somebody has tried to start the lead with a description rather than a definition of the Latin gerund. Even so, it leave the reader with the impression that this description is somehow relevant to the use of the term in English and other languages. Moreover a casual reader — or one with vague sense that a gerund is a thing across languages — is liable to read the description as a definition.

If we really did want to write an article about the Latin gerund, the lead would have to be something like: The Latin gerund is a form of the verb used as a noun where the indeclinable infinitive is not available. DavidCrosbie (talk) 14:36, 9 January 2016 (UTC)

This is an encyclopedia, not a dictionary, and encyclopedia articles are (for the most part) about things rather than "terms". I've directed you to WP:UMD and to the WP article Use-mention distinction, yet you still refuse to see that "Gerund is a term ..." is unacceptable as an opening sentence (and you persistenly revert all my changes to the lead, even those unrelated to this dispute). I think that you need to calm down and consider the matter further instead of trying to establish ownership over this article and Gerundive both of which are in need of some copyediting and correction after your attentions. Deor (talk) 15:07, 9 January 2016 (UTC)
  • 3O Request Greetings, both. Deor requested a third opinion on this matter. Unfortunately, I have to decline the request at this time, because it has barely been discussed. If you discuss this issue thoroughly and no progress has been made, feel free to post a request again, or to use another dispute resolution mechanism like the noticeboard. Regards, Vanamonde93 (talk) 16:45, 9 January 2016 (UTC)
The guideline you keep referring to, Deor, reads
Phrases such as refers to, is the name of, describes the, or is a term for are sometimes [my emphasis] used inappropriately in the introduction to a Wikipedia article.
Well, OK. But this is an occasion when is a term for isn't inappropriate. DavidCrosbie (talk) 23:19, 9 January 2016 (UTC)
You also mention changes unrelated to this dispute, Deor. The only one I can see is your insistence on divided into for my divided between. We may be able to think of a better word than divided but there is no substitute for between. The traditional analysis is into three thingies ('parts of speech' or whatever): participle, (de)verbal noun and gerund. Nobody disputes that the (de)verbal nouns are distinct. The disputed claim is that there is a difference between participles and gerunds. If I've messed up any other change(s), please let me know. DavidCrosbie (talk) 00:08, 10 January 2016 (UTC)
With regard to "changes unrelated to this dispute", in this edit I properly italicized the titles of two books and changed your quoting of "-ing" to the more usual italicization, all of which changes were lost in your blanket revert. With regard to the dispute itself, you still do not seem to be getting the use-mention distinction (for one thing, with your wording "gerund" would need to be italicized in the opening sentence, as a word referred to as a word; see MOS:ITAL#Words as words). Note, for example, the article Participle, which begins "A participle is a form of a verb that is used ...", not "Participle is a term that is used ...", or Anacoluthon, which begins "An anacoluthon ... is an unexpected discontinuity ...", not "Anacoluthon ... is a term for an unexpected discontinuity ..."
Moreover, your italicization of "term" in the opening sentence (because "that's how important it is") and your linking it to the article Terminology are idiosyncratic and aberrant to the point of mania. I think it's time for me to step away and let you hoist yourself on your petard here. You say "If I've messed up any other change(s), please let me know", but that's not how Wikipedia works, and I'm unwilling to waste my time making corrections that will be blindly reverted. This article—as well as Gerundive—seems to be on few editors' watchlists, but perhaps someone else will come along who will be better able than I to deal with your problems. Deor (talk) 12:47, 10 January 2016 (UTC)
OK, I apologies for the blanket revert. I passed the button on the History page to show differences between versions and only the lead was displayed.
I remain convinced that it's you that doesn't understand the use-mention distinction.
The difference between gerund (I'm not so bothered about gerundive) and the others you cite is that few people dispute the existence of participles and anacoluthon. I know of no scholarly contemporary grammar of English that accepts the discrete existence of the gerund. And against your participle I can cite the opening of the lead for infinitive:
Infinitive is a grammatical term referring to certain verb forms existing in many languages
Yes the gerund in Latin is a thing susceptible to definition/description. But that's not what people read the article for. How do I know? Just read the rest of the Talks page above. With very few exception, people have questions, suggestions, problems concerned with the supposed English gerund. These are intelligent, interested people who have taken the care not only to read the article (in the version then current) but to ponder and write about "English gerunds." Yet even among this self-selected thoughtful group there are many signs of confusion, even exasperation. And I originally came to the article after reading the confused comments of somebody who had read it.
Clearly there's a serious expositional problem if so many well-motivated, thoughtful users get so little from a substantial article. As a former language teacher, I see this as a problem of communication, of suiting the wording to the anticipated response of the readership. And my diagnosis is that the interested reader has a vague idea that the gerund is a thing which people talk about without bothering to identify. Note the cri de coeur above:
This article isn't very clear for people who don't know what a gerund is. Can you first clearly state what a gerund is in english, and then tell us about what it means in other languages?
And this is somebody who has read the article and thought about it!
I remain convinced that the major obstacle in understanding the topic is a preconception that some near-imposiible-to-understand concept must be mastered before any other information can make sense. Before I added any material of my own, I tried to rephrase the work of predecessors, presenting their example as non-finite -ing clauses — which they undoubtedly are — each followed by a remark that it's traditionally termed/not termed "gerund". Somebody had already stated and explained the key idea of non-finite clause. What I tried to do was to make this the central explanatory idea. Having grasped this, it's not much of a burden for the reader to understand how the term gerund is used in traditional grammar of English. I was actually more pleased with my wording of the lead than anything else. It captures (or at least I think it captures) the problem: it's hard to understand so-called English gerund until you realise that it's an alien 'term' from Latin grammar. And it capture it in four relatively straightforward sentences. I can think of other ways of introducing the idea, but they would involve at least one more sentence, and probably quite a few unnecessary complications. And there would still be the anomaly that the article that most people wish to consult — an article on the so-called English gerund — started with a precise explanation of what most people don't wish to consult — the gerund in Classical Latin.
Of course, we could begin the lead by saying that an English gerund is something that doesn't exist. Intellectually defensible, but no more helpful than saying that it does.DavidCrosbie (talk) 00:58, 11 January 2016 (UTC)
PS I take your points about the italicising of -ing and the awkwardness of 'divide between'.DavidCrosbie (talk) 18:45, 11 January 2016 (UTC)
PPS If the sub-editors do back what I take to be your perverse opposition to the is a term approach, I might suggest something like:
A gerund is one of two non-finite forms of the Latin verb used with nominal function. The indeclinable infinitive is used for nominative subject and accusative object function. The declinable gerund is used for other case functions or after prepositions. Of the two, only the gerund was classed as a noun by Roman grammarians. Grammarians of some other languages have used the term gerund for verbal nouns and similar forms, based on the traditional Latin definition. In English ...
This is all (I believe) true and guides the reader from the Latin thing to the English term (which i consider desirable). But it's unnecessarily long and introduces some stuff unnecessarily early. DavidCrosbie (talk) 18:45, 11 January 2016 (UTC)

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