Gerunds as simple nouns

Many words which were originally gerunds are now treated as simple nouns. Examples are: parting, lightning, helping, filling,  painting etc. Most of these words take articles before them and form plurals with -s.

  • Partings are always painful.
  • The lightning struck the building.
  • His paintings are very beautiful.
  • He has had three fillings.

Gerunds are also used in the formation of some compound words. Examples are:

Walking-stick, frying-pan, writing-table, looking-glass, sleeping-bag etc.

Substituting a gerund for an infinitive

After some verbs either an -ing form or an infinitive can be used. These include the following:

Advise, allow, begin, continue, forbid, forget, go, hate, hear, intend, like, love, permit, prefer, propose, regret, remember, see, start, stop, try, wait and watch.

  • I hate to work on Sundays.
  • I hate working on Sundays.
  • To attack is better than to wait indefinitely.
  • Attacking is better than waiting indefinitely.

After certain adjectives and verbs, a preposition + gerund is used instead of an infinitive. Examples are: think, despair, fond, confident, prevent, abstain, refrain, prohibit etc.

  • I am thinking of writing a novel. (NOT I am thinking to write a novel. ) (NOT I am thinking of to write a novel.)
  • I despair of reforming that fellow.
  • The students abstained from attending classes.
  • We were prohibited from entering the premises.
  • She is fond of dancing.
  • We are confident of winning the first prize.
  • We must refrain from dealing with such people.
  • He is keen on building a career in research.