Gerunds are nouns built from a verb with an ‘-ing’ suffix. They can be used as the subject of a sentence, an object, or an object of preposition. They can also be used to complement a subject. Often, gerunds exist side-by-side with nouns that come from the same root but the gerund and the common noun have different shades of meaning. Examples: breath and breathing, knowledge and knowing.
Examples of gerunds as the subject of a sentence are:
- Backpacking is a rewarding pastime.
- Stretching can loosen up muscles.
- No smoking. (I.e., no smoking is allowed / you may not smoke here.)
As an object:
- We all love to go bowling on the weekend.
- He loves eating chips.
An object of preposition:
- They complained of hearing strange sounds from the next cabin.
- They sang about being eaten by bears to allay their fears.
And as a complement to a subject:
- One of the most dangerous things to do on the lake is ice-skating.