Even if you have never heard the word "gerund" before, you probably use gerunds all the time if you speak English. But what are "gerunds"? And how do you use these words correctly in your writing? This post will explain the basics.\n\nWhat Is a Gerund?\nIn short, a "gerund" is a noun formed by adding "-ing" to the base form of a verb.\nFor example, "reading" is the gerund form of the verb "read." This may still look like a verb (it is, in fact, identical to the present participle verb form, which also ends with "-ing"). But it functions like a noun by naming something. For instance:\nReading is an excellent learning tool.\nI enjoy reading.\nBrian\u2019s favorite hobby is reading.\nThese sentences do not describe anyone performing the action of reading. Rather, in all three, "reading" is a gerund that names an activity.\nIn English, gerunds have three main uses. These are as:\n\n\n \tThe subject of a sentence\n \tThe object of a sentence\n \t\u00a0A subject complement in a sentence\n\nBelow, we will look at what these involve in more detail.\n\n1. Gerunds as Sentence Subjects\nThe subject of a sentence is the person or thing that performs the action of the main verb. For instance, we often use gerunds to talk about activities or behavior:\nReading is an excellent learning tool.\nHere, the gerund "reading" is the subject of the sentence. In other words, we're describing the activity "reading" as "an excellent learning tool."\nIn other cases, we can add modifiers after a gerund to make a gerund phrase:\nEating healthy food makes me feel good.\nHere, the subject of the sentence is "eating healthy food," which contains the gerund "eating." This serves as the subject of the main verb "makes."\nAs shown in the examples here, when we use gerunds as subjects, the following verb always takes the third-person singular form.\n\n2. Gerunds as Sentence Objects\nGerunds can also act as the object of a sentence (i.e., the thing being acted on):\nI enjoy reading.\nShe hates dancing.\n\nHere, for example, the gerunds "reading" and "dancing" are the objects of the sentences (i.e., the thing enjoyed and the thing hated, respectively).\nGerunds can also be the object of a preposition (e.g., "of," "to," "in," "on"). You can therefore use a gerund in a prepositional phrase to modify a noun or verb:\nThis book about swimming is fascinating.\nTerry is interested in sewing.\nIn the first sentence above, the phrase "about swimming" modifies the noun "book" to tell us what it is about. And in the second sentence, the phrase "in sewing" modifies the verb "interested" to tell us what Terry is interested in.\n\n3. Gerunds as Subject Complements\nA subject complement is a word or phrase that follows a linking verb, such as the various forms of "be," and describes the subject of the sentence. For instance:\nBrian\u2019s favorite hobby is reading.\nSusan\u2019s first job was driving a taxi.\nHere, "reading" acts as a complement by identifying Brian\u2019s favourite hobby. Similarly, in the second example, the gerund "driving" is part of a complement to the subject "job," helping to describe what Susan did for her first job.\n\nProofreading for Grammar\nHopefully, this has shown that grammar doesn't have to be intimidating! But if you have any concerns about the grammar in your writing, try our proofreading trial service. Get a 500-word document proofread for free today to find out more.