Grammar Tip: How to Use Gerunds Correctly
Contributor
Written by
Maria Murnane
May 2016
Contributor
Written by
Maria Murnane
May 2016

If you're not familiar with the term "gerund," it's a noun that is created by adding "ing" to a verb. For example:

Noun: To be

Gerund: Being

Noun: To write

Gerund: Writing

While gerunds are easy to use as simple subjects (Writing is important to me) or as objects (I love writing), they can be a little tricky when possessives (my, your, his, her, our, their) are involved. But if you force yourself to remember that gerunds are nouns, it's a lot easier. 

For example, here are some common errors I encounter with gerunds and possessives:

Is him being at the party a problem for you? (INCORRECT)

Is his being at the party a problem for you? (CORRECT) 

Are you still confused? If so, replace "being at the party" with another noun, let's say "poisonous snake," and see which sounds correct:

Is him poisonous snake a problem for you?

Is his poisonous snake a problem for you?

Here's another example:

I believe that me taking the time to write this post is important. (INCORRECT)

I believe that my taking the time to write this post is important. (CORRECT)

Are you still making a face at your screen? If so, try replacing "taking the time to write this post" with another noun, let's say "health," and see which sounds correct:

I believe that me health is important. 

I believe that my health is important. 

When you switch out the gerund for a simpler noun, the correct answer jumps out at you, right? Gerunds aren't always easy, so I use that trick all the time. When in doubt, switch it out! If you do, your ear should tell you which way to go.

-Maria

Maria Murnane is the best-selling author of the Waverly Bryson series, Cassidy Lane, Katwalk, and Wait for the Rain. She also provides consulting services to aspiring and published authors. Have questions? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2016 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Comments
  • Pamela Fender

    Love this. Thanks for the lesson!

  • This is so helpful, thank you. Such a good thing to know.

  • Deborah Clearman

    I love grammar, and this is a delight!

  • Mardith Louisell

    Love it. As Kat said, it's an easy trick and one I didn't know.Thanks so much, Maria.

  • Kat Stiles

    Love this post, what an easy trick! :)