Grammar Made Easy

Subtitle

Verbals: Gerunds, Participles, and Infinitives

Gerunds (-ing)

When a verb ends in -ing, it may be a gerund or a present participle. It is important to understand that they are not the same.

Gerunds are sometimes called "verbal nouns".

When we use a verb in -ing form more like a noun, it is usually a gerund:

  • Fishing is fun.

When we use a verb in -ing form more like a verb or an adjective, it is usually a present participle:

  • Anthony is fishing.
  • I have a boring teacher.

In this lesson, we look at the different ways in which we use gerunds, followed by a quiz to check your understanding:

Many grammarians do not like to use the expression "gerund". That is because there is sometimes no clear difference between a gerund and a present participle

Gerunds as Subject, Object or Complement

Try to think of gerunds as verbs in noun form.

Like nouns, gerunds can be the subject, object or complement of a sentence:

  • Smoking costs a lot of money.
  • I don't like writing.
  • My favourite occupation is reading.

But, like a verb, a gerund can also have an object itself. In this case, the whole expression [gerund + object] can be the subject, object or complement of the sentence.

  • Smoking cigarettes costs a lot of money.
  • I don't like writing letters.
  • My favourite occupation is reading detective stories.

Like nouns, we can use gerunds with adjectives (including articles and other determiners):

  • pointless questioning
  • a settling of debts
  • the making of Titanic
  • his drinking of alcohol

But when we use a gerund with an article, it does not usually take a direct object:

  • a settling of debts (not a settling debts)
  • Making "Titanic" was expensive.
  • The making of "Titanic" was expensive.

Do you see the difference in these two sentences? In one, "reading" is a gerund (noun). In the other "reading" is a present participle (verb).

  • My favourite occupation is reading.
  • My favourite niece is reading.

Gerunds after Prepositions

This is a good rule. It has no exceptions!

If we want to use a verb after a preposition, it must be a gerund. It is impossible to use an infinitive after a preposition. So for example, we say:

  • I will call you after arriving at the office.
  • Please have a drink before leaving.
  • I am looking forward to meeting you.
  • Do you object to working late?
  • Tara always dreams about going on holiday.

Notice that you could replace all the above gerunds with "real" nouns:

  • I will call you after my arrival at the office.
  • Please have a drink before your departure.
  • I am looking forward to our lunch.
  • Do you object to this job?
  • Tara always dreams about holidays.

The above rule has no exceptions! So why is "to" followed by "driving" in 1 and by "drive" in 2?

  1. I am used to driving on the left.
  2. I used to drive on the left.

Gerunds after Certain Verbs

We sometimes use one verb after another verb. Often the second verb is in the infinitive form, for example:

  • I want to eat.

But sometimes the second verb must be in gerund form, for example:

  • I dislike eating.

This depends on the first verb. Here is a list of verbs that are usually followed by a verb in gerund form:

  • admit, appreciate, avoid, carry on, consider, defer, delay, deny, detest, dislike, endure, enjoy, escape, excuse, face, feel like, finish, forgive, give up, can't help, imagine, involve, leave off, mention, mind, miss, postpone, practise, put off, report, resent, risk, can't stand, suggest, understand

Look at these examples:

  • She is considering having a holiday.
  • Do you feel like going out?
  • I can't help falling in love with you.
  • I can't stand not seeing you.

Some verbs can be followed by the gerund form or the infinitive form without a big change in meaning: begin, continue, hate, intend, like, love, prefer, propose, start

  • I like to play tennis.
  • I like playing tennis.
  • It started to rain.
  • It started raining.

Gerunds in Passive Sense

We often use a gerund after the verbs need, require and want. In this case, the gerund has a passive sense.

  • I have three shirts that need washing. (need to be washed)
  • This letter requires signing. (needs to be signed)
  • The house wants repainting. (needs to be repainted)

The expression "something wants doing" is British English.

Here is a brief review of the differences between gerunds and infinitives.

Gerunds are formed with ING:

walking, talking, thinking, listening

Infinitives are formed with TO:

to walk, to talk, to think, to listen

 

Gerunds and infinitives can do several jobs:

Both gerunds and infinitives can be the subject of a sentence::

Writing in English is difficult.
To write in English is difficult.

Both gerunds and infinitives can be the object of a verb::

I like writing in English.
I like to write in English.

But...

Only gerunds can be the object of a preposition::

We are talking about writing in English.

It is often difficult to know when to use a gerund and when to use an infinitive. These guidelines may help you:

Gerunds are often used when actions are real, concrete or completed::

I stopped smoking.
(The smoking was real and happened until I stopped.)

Infinitives are often used when actions are unreal, abstract, or future::

I stopped to smoke.
(I was doing something else, and I stopped; the smoking had not happened yet.)

Verbals: Gerunds, Participles, and Infinitives

The three types of verbals are: gerunds, participles, and infinitives.

Gerunds and participles are also compared and contrasted in a separate section of this handout because they can both end in -ing but have different functions in a sentence.

Finally, since they can both function as nouns in a sentence despite their different forms, gerunds and infinitives are compared and contrasted in the last section below.

Throughout this document, occasional example sentences with wording that might be considered nonstandard, ambiguous, or at least peculiar in formal writing are marked with an asterisk (*).

 

Gerunds

A gerund is a verbal that ends in -ing and functions as a noun. The term verbal indicates that a gerund, like the other two kinds of verbals, is based on a verb and therefore expresses action or a state of being. However, since a gerund functions as a noun, it occupies some positions in a sentence that a noun ordinarily would, for example: subject, direct object, subject complement, and object of preposition.

Gerund as subject:

  • Traveling might satisfy your desire for new experiences.
  • The study abroad program might satisfy your desire for new experiences.

Gerund as direct object:

  • They do not appreciate my singing.
  • They do not appreciate my assistance.

Gerund as subject complement:

  • My cat's favorite activity is sleeping.
  • My cat's favorite food is salmon.

Gerund as object of preposition:

  • The police arrested him for speeding.
  • The police arrested him for criminal activity.
 A Gerund Phrase is a group of words consisting of a gerund and the modifier(s) and/or (pro)noun(s) or noun phrase(s) that function as the direct object(s), indirect object(s), or complement(s) of the action or state expressed in the gerund, such as:

Finding a needle in a haystack would be easier than what we're trying to do.

The gerund phrase functions as the subject of the sentence.
Finding (gerund)
a needle (direct object of action expressed in gerund)
in a haystack (prepositional phrase as adverb)

I hope that you appreciate my offering you this opportunity.

The gerund phrase functions as the direct object of the verb appreciate.
my (possessive pronoun adjective form, modifying the gerund)
offering (gerund)
you (indirect object of action expressed in gerund)
this opportunity (direct object of action expressed in gerund)

Newt's favorite tactic has been lying to his constituents.

The gerund phrase functions as the subject complement.
lying to (gerund)
his constituents (direct object of action expressed in gerund)

You might get in trouble for faking an illness to avoid work.

The gerund phrase functions as the object of the preposition for.
faking (gerund)
an illness (direct object of action expressed in gerund)
to avoid work (infinitive phrase as adverb)

Being the boss made Jeff feel uneasy.

The gerund phrase functions as the subject of the sentence.
Being (gerund)
the boss (subject complement for Jeff, via state of being expressed in gerund)

 
Punctuation

A gerund virtually never requires any punctuation with it.

 

Points to remember:

1. A gerund is a verbal ending in -ing that is used as a noun.
2. A gerund phrase consists of a gerund plus modifier(s), object(s), and/or complement(s).
3. Gerunds and gerund phrases virtually never require punctuation.

 

Exercise on Gerunds:

Underline the gerunds or gerund phrases in the following sentences and label how they function in the sentence (subject, direct object, subject complement, object of preposition).

1. Swimming keeps me in shape.
2. Swimming in your pool is always fun.
3. Telling your father was a mistake.
4. The college recommends sending applications early.
5. He won the game by scoring during the overtime period.
6. Her most important achievement was winning the national championship.
7. Going to work today took all my energy.
8. Fighting for a losing cause made them depressed.

Answers to this exercise are at the bottom of the page.

 

Participles

A participle is a verbal that is used as an adjective and most often ends in -ing or -ed. The term verbal indicates that a participle, like the other two kinds of verbals, is based on a verb and therefore expresses action or a state of being. However, since they function as adjectives, participles modify nouns or pronouns. There are two types of participles: present participles and past participles. Present participles end in -ing. Past participles end in -ed, -en, -d, -t, or -n, as in the words asked, eaten, saved, dealt, and seen.

  • The crying baby had a wet diaper.
  • Shaken, he walked away from the wrecked car.
  • The burning log fell off the fire.
  • Smiling, she hugged the panting dog.
A participial phrase is a group of words consisting of a participle and the modifier(s) and/or (pro)noun(s) or noun phrase(s) that function as the direct object(s), indirect object(s), or complement(s) of the action or state expressed in the participle, such as:

Removing his coat, Jack rushed to the river.

The participial phrase functions as an adjective modifying Jack.
Removing (participle)
his coat (direct object of action expressed in participle)

Delores noticed her cousin walking along the shoreline.

The participial phrase functions as an adjective modifying cousin.
walking (participle)
along the shoreline (prepositional phrase as adverb)

Children introduced to music early develop strong intellectual skills.

The participial phrase functions as an adjective modifying children.
introduced (to) (participle)
music (direct object of action expressed in participle)
early (adverb)

Having been a gymnast, Lynn knew the importance of exercise.

The participial phrase functions as an adjective modifying Lynn.
Having been (participle)
a gymnast (subject complement for Lynn, via state of being expressed in participle)

Placement: In order to prevent confusion, a participial phrase must be placed as close to the noun it modifies as possible, and the noun must be clearly stated.

  • Carrying a heavy pile of books, his foot caught on a step. *
  • Carrying a heavy pile of books, he caught his foot on a step.

In the first sentence there is no clear indication of who or what is performing the action expressed in the participle carrying. Certainly foot can't be logically understood to function in this way. This situation is an example of a dangling modifier error since the modifier (the participial phrase) is not modifying any specific noun in the sentence and is thus left "dangling." Since a person must be doing the carrying for the sentence to make sense, a noun or pronoun that refers to a person must be in the place immediately after the participial phrase, as in the second sentence.

Punctuation: When a participial phrase begins a sentence, a comma should be placed after the phrase.

  • Arriving at the store, I found that it was closed.
  • Washing and polishing the car, Frank developed sore muscles.

If the participle or participial phrase comes in the middle of a sentence, it should be set off with commas only if the information is not essential to the meaning of the sentence.

  • Sid, watching an old movie, drifted in and out of sleep.
  • The church, destroyed by a fire, was never rebuilt.

Note that if the participial phrase is essential to the meaning of the sentence, no commas should be used:

  • The student earning the highest grade point average will receive a special award.
  • The guy wearing the chicken costume is my cousin.

If a participial phrase comes at the end of a sentence, a comma usually precedes the phrase if it modifies an earlier word in the sentence but not if the phrase directly follows the word it modifies.

  • The local residents often saw Ken wandering through the streets.
    (The phrase modifies Ken, not residents.)
  • Tom nervously watched the woman, alarmed by her silence.
    (The phrase modifies Tom, not woman.)

 

Points to remember:

1. A participle is a verbal ending in -ing (present) or -ed, -en, -d, -t, or -n (past) that functions as an adjective, modifying a noun or pronoun.
2. A participial phrase consists of a participle plus modifier(s), object(s), and/or complement(s).
3. Participles and participial phrases must be placed as close to the nouns or pronouns they modify as possible, and those nouns or pronouns must be clearly stated.
4. A participial phrase is set off with commas when it: a) comes at the beginning of a sentence, b) interrupts a sentence as a nonessential element, or c) comes at the end of a sentence and is separated from the word it modifies.

 

Exercise on Participles:

Underline the participial phrase(s) in each of the following sentences, and draw a line to the noun or pronoun modified.

1. Getting up at five, we got an early start.
2. Facing college standards, the students realized that they hadn't worked hard enough in high school.
3. Statistics reported by the National Education Association revealed that seventy percent of American colleges offer remedial English classes emphasizing composition.
4. The overloaded car gathered speed slowly.
5. Gathering my courage, I asked for a temporary loan.

In each of the following sentences, underline the participial phrase(s), draw a line to the word(s) modified, and punctuate the sentence correctly. Remember that some sentences may not need punctuation.

6. Starting out as an army officer Karen's father was frequently transferred.
7. Mrs. Sears showing more bravery than wisdom invited thirty boys and girls to a party.
8. The student left in charge of the class was unable to keep order.
9. Applicants must investigate various colleges learning as much as possible about them before applying for admission.
10. The crying boy angered by the bully began to fight.

Rewrite the following sentences (you may need to reword them slightly) with the correct placement and punctuation of the participial phrases.

11. Espousing a conservative point of view the proposal for more spending on federal social programs bothered him.
12. Absorbed in an interesting conversation my scheduled appointment time passed unnoticed.

Answers to this exercise are at the bottom of the page.

 

Infinitives

An infinitive is a verbal consisting of the word to plus a verb (in its simplest "stem" form) and functioning as a noun, adjective, or adverb. The term verbal indicates that an infinitive, like the other two kinds of verbals, is based on a verb and therefore expresses action or a state of being. However, the infinitive may function as a subject, direct object, subject complement, adjective, or adverb in a sentence. Although an infinitive is easy to locate because of the to + verb form, deciding what function it has in a sentence can sometimes be confusing.

  • To wait seemed foolish when decisive action was required. (subject)
  • Everyone wanted to go. (direct object)
  • His ambition is to fly. (subject complement)
  • He lacked the strength to resist. (adjective)
  • We must study to learn. (adverb)

Be sure not to confuse an infinitive--a verbal consisting of to plus a verb--with a prepositional phrase beginning with to, which consists of to plus a noun or pronoun and any modifiers.

Infinitives: to fly, to draw, to become, to enter, to stand, to catch, to belong

Prepositional Phrases: to him, to the committee, to my house, to the mountains, to us, to this address

An Infinitive Phrase is a group of words consisting of an infinitive and the modifier(s) and/or (pro)noun(s) or noun phrase(s) that function as the actor(s), direct object(s), indirect object(s), or complement(s) of the action or state expressed in the infinitive, such as:

We intended to leave early.

The infinitive phrase functions as the direct object of the verb intended.
to leave (infinitive)
early (adverb)

I have a paper to write before class.

The infinitive phrase functions as an adjective modifying paper.
to write (infinitive)
before class (prepositional phrase as adverb)

Phil agreed to give me a ride.

The infinitive phrase functions as the direct object of the verb agreed.
to give (infinitive)
me (indirect object of action expressed in infinitive)
a ride (direct object of action expressed in infinitive)

They asked me to bring some food.

The infinitive phrase functions as the direct object of the verb asked.
me (actor or "subject" of infinitive phrase)
to bring (infinitive)
some food (direct object of action expressed in infinitive)

Everyone wanted Carol to be the captain of the team.

The infinitive phrase functions as the direct object of the verb wanted.
Carol (actor or "subject" of infinitive phrase)
to be (infinitive)
the captain (subject complement for Carol, via state of being expressed in infinitive)
of the team (prepositional phrase as adjective)

Actors: In these last two examples the actor of the infinitive phrase could be roughly characterized as the "subject" of the action or state expressed in the infinitive. It is somewhat misleading to use the word subject, however, since an infinitive phrase is not a full clause with a subject and a finite verb. Also notice that when it is a pronoun, the actor appears in the objective case (me, not I, in the fourth example). Certain verbs, when they take an infinitive direct object, require an actor for the infinitive phrase; others can't have an actor. Still other verbs can go either way, as the charts below illustrate.

Verbs that take infinitive objects without actors:

agree

begin

continue

decide

fail

hesitate

hope

intend

learn

neglect

offer

plan

prefer

pretend

promise

refuse

remember

start

try

 

Examples:

Most students plan to study.
We began to learn.
They offered to pay.
They neglected to pay.
She promised to return.

In all of these examples no actor can come between the italicized main (finite) verb and the infinitive direct-object phrase.

Verbs that take infinitive objects with actors:

advise

allow

convince

remind

encourage

force

hire

teach

instruct

invite

permit

tell

implore

incite

appoint

order

 

Examples:

He reminded me to buy milk.
Their fathers advise them to study.
She forced the defendant to admit the truth.
You've convinced the director of the program to change her position.
I invite you to consider the evidence.

In all of these examples an actor is required after the italicized main (finite) verb and before the infinitive direct-object phrase.

Verbs that use either pattern:

ask

expect

(would) like

want

 

Examples:

I asked to see the records.
I asked him to show me the records.
Trent expected his group to win.
Trent expected to win.
Brenda likes to drive fast.
Brenda likes her friend to drive fast.

In all of these examples the italicized main verb can take an infinitive object with or without an actor.

Punctuation: If the infinitive is used as an adverb and is the beginning phrase in a sentence, it should be set off with a comma; otherwise, no punctuation is needed for an infinitive phrase.

  • To buy a basket of flowers, John had to spend his last dollar.
  • To improve your writing, you must consider your purpose and audience.

 

Points to remember:

1. An infinitive is a verbal consisting of the word to plus a verb; it may be used as a noun, adjective, or adverb.
2. An infinitive phrase consists of an infinitive plus modifier(s), object(s), complement(s), and/or actor(s).
3. An infinitive phrase requires a comma only if it is used as an adverb at the beginning of a sentence.

 

Split infinitives:

Split infinitives occur when additional words are included between to and the verb in an infinitive. Many readers find a single adverb splitting the infinitive to be acceptable, but this practice should be avoided in formal writing.

Examples:

I like to on a nice day walk in the woods. * (unacceptable)
On a nice day, I like to walk in the woods. (revised)
I needed to quickly gather my personal possessions. (acceptable in informal contexts)
I needed to gather my personal possessions quickly. (revised for formal contexts)

 

Exercise on Infinitives:

Underline the infinitive phrase and label the way it is used in the sentence, adding any punctuation as needed.

1. I want to go.
2. I want you to go home.
3. We want to see the play.
4. To see a shooting star is good luck.
5. To fight against those odds would be ridiculous.

Now underline the infinitive phrase and label how it is used in the sentence.

6. To design a new building for them would be challenging.
7. I want him to be my bodyguard.
8. Jim is expected to program computers at his new job.
9. They will try to build a new stadium in ten years.
10. To distill a quart of moonshine takes two hours.
11. The president wants to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
12. She has the money to buy it.
13. We demonstrated to attract attention to our agenda.
14. I do not like to give poor grades.
15. The dogs were taught to stand, to sit, and to bark on command.
16. To be great is to be true to yourself and to the highest principles of honor.
17. To see is to believe.

Answers to this exercise are at the bottom of the page.

 

Comparing Gerunds and Participles

Look at the following pair of sentences. In the first, the use of a gerund (functioning as a noun) allows the meaning to be expressed more precisely than in the second. In the first sentence the interrupting itself, a specific behavior, is precisely indicated as the cause of the speaker's irritation. In the second the cause of the irritation is identified less precisely as Bill, who just happens to have been interrupting. (In the second sentence, interrupting is actually a participle, not a gerund, since it functions as an adjective modifying Bill.)

I was irritated by Bill's constant interrupting.
I was irritated by Bill, constantly interrupting.

The same pattern is shown in these other example pairs below: in the first of each pair, a gerund (noun-function) is used; in the second, a participle (adjective-function). Notice the subtle change in meaning between the two sentences in each pair.

 

Examples:

The guitarist's finger-picking was extraordinary. (The technique was extraordinary.)
The guitarist, finger-picking, was extraordinary. (The person was extraordinary, demonstrating the technique.)

He was not impressed with their competing. (The competing did not impress him.)
He was not impressed with them competing. (They did not impress him as they competed.)

Grandpa enjoyed his grandchildren's running and laughing.
Grandpa enjoyed his grandchildren, running and laughing.* (Ambiguous: who is running and laughing?)

 

Comparing Gerunds and Infinitives

The difference in the form of gerunds and infinitives is quite clear just from comparing the following lists:

Gerunds: swimming, hoping, telling, eating, dreaming
Infinitives: to swim, to hope, to tell, to eat, to dream

Their functions, however, overlap. Gerunds always function as nouns, but infinitives often also serve as nouns. Deciding which to use can be confusing in many situations, especially for people whose first language is not English.

Confusion between gerunds and infinitives occurs primarily in cases in which one or the other functions as the direct object in a sentence. In English some verbs take gerunds as verbal direct objects exclusively while other verbs take only infinitives and still others can take either. Many such verbs are listed below, organized according to which kind of verbal direct object they take.

 

Verbs that take only infinitives as verbal direct objects

agree

decide

expect

hesitate

learn

need

promise

neglect

hope

want

plan

attempt

propose

intend

pretend

 

Examples:

I hope to go on a vacation soon.
(not: I hope going on a vacation soon.*)

He promised to go on a diet.
(not: He promised going on a diet. *)

They agreed to sign the treaty.
(not: They agreed signing the treaty.*)

Because she was nervous, she hesitated to speak.
(not: Because she was nervous, she hesitated speaking.*)

They will attempt to resuscitate the victim
(not: They will attempt resuscitating the victim.*)

 

Verbs that take only gerunds as verbal direct objects

deny

risk

delay

consider

can't help

keep

give up

be fond of

finish

quit

put off

practice

postpone

tolerate

suggest

stop (quit)

regret

enjoy

keep (on)

dislike

admit

avoid

recall

mind

miss

detest

appreciate

recommend

get/be through

get/be tired of

get/be accustomed to

get/be used to

 

Examples:

They always avoid drinking before driving.
(not: They always avoid to drink before driving.*)

I recall asking her that question.
(not: I recall to ask her that question.*)

She put off buying a new jacket.
(not: She put off to buy a new jacket.*)

Mr. Allen enjoys cooking.
(not: Mr. Allen enjoys to cook.*)

Charles keeps calling her.
(not: Charles keeps to call her.*)

 

Verbs that take gerunds or infinitives as verbal direct objects

start

begin

continue

hate

prefer

like

love

try

remember

 

Examples:

She has continued to work at the store.
She has continued working at the store.

They like to go to the movies.
They like going to the movies.

Brent started to walk home.
Brent started walking home.

 

Forget and remember

These two verbs change meaning depending on whether a gerund or infinitive is used as the object.

 

Examples:

Jack forgets to take out the cat. (He regularly forgets.)
Jack forgets taking out the cat. (He did it, but he doesn't remember now.)

Jack forgot to take out the cat. (He never did it.)
Jack forgot taking out the cat. (He did it, but he didn't remember sometime later.)

Jack remembers to take out the cat. (He regularly remembers.)
Jack remembers taking out the cat. (He did it, and he remembers now.)

Jack remembered to take out the cat. (He did it.)
Jack remembered taking out the cat. (He did it, and he remembered sometime later.)

In the second of each pair of example sentences above, the past progressive gerund form having taken can be used in place of taking to avoid any possible confusion.

 

Sense verbs that take an object plus a gerund or a simple verb

Certain sense verbs take an object followed by either a gerund or a simple verb (infinitive form minus the word to). With many of the verbs that follow the object, the use of the gerund indicates continuous action while the use of the simple verb indicates a one-time action. Still, sometimes the simple verb can indicate continuous action if one-time action wouldn't make sense in the context.

feel

hear

notice

watch

see

smell

observe

 

Examples:

We watched him playing basketball. (continuous action)
We watched him play basketball. (continuous action)

I felt my heart pumping vigorously. (continuous action)
I felt my heart pump vigorously. (continuous action)

She saw them jumping on the bed. (continuous action)
She saw them jump on the bed. (one-time action)

Tom heard the victim shouting for help. (continuous action)
Tom heard the victim shout for help. (one-time action)

The detective noticed the suspect biting his nails. (continuous action)
The detective noticed the suspect bite his nails. (one-time action)

We could smell the pie baking in the kitchen. (continuous action)
We could smell the pie bake in the kitchen. (continuous action)

Sometimes the simple-verb version might seem unconventional, so it's safer in most cases to use the gerund version.

 

Gerunds

Exercise Answers:

Underline the gerunds or gerund phrases in the following sentences and label how they function in the sentence (subject, direct object, subject complement, object of preposition).

1. Swimming keeps me in shape. [subject]
2. Swimming in your pool is always fun. [subject]
3. Telling your father was a mistake. [subject]
4. The college recommends sending applications early. [direct object]
5. He won the game by scoring during the overtime period. [object of preposition]
6. Her most important achievement was winning the national championship. [subject complement]
7. Going to work today took all my energy. [subject]
8. Fighting for a losing cause made them depressed. [subject]

 

Participles

Exercise Answers:

Underline the participial phrase(s) in each of the following sentences, and draw a line to the noun or pronoun modified.

1. Getting up at five, we got an early start. [modifies we]
2. Facing college standards, the students realized that they hadn't worked hard enough in high school. [modifies the students]
3. Statistics reported by the National Education Association revealed that seventy percent of American colleges offer remedial English classes emphasizing composition. [1. modifies statistics; 2. modifies classes]
4. The overloaded car gathered speed slowly. [modifies car]
5. Gathering my courage, I asked for a temporary loan. [modifies I]

In each of the following sentences, underline the participial phrase(s), draw a line to the word(s) modified, and punctuate the sentence correctly. Remember that some sentences may not need punctuation.

6. Starting out as an army officer, Karen's father was frequently transferred. [modifies Karen's father]
7. Mrs. Sears, showing more bravery than wisdom, invited thirty boys and girls to a party. [modifies Mrs. Sears]
8. The student left in charge of the class was unable to keep order. [modifies student]
9. Applicants must investigate various colleges, learning as much as possible about them before applying for admission. [modifies applicants; note that applying for admission is a gerund phrase, not a participial phrase]
10. The crying boy, angered by the bully, began to fight. [both modify boy]

Rewrite the following sentences (you may need to reword them slightly) with the correct placement and punctuation of the participial phrases.

11. Espousing a conservative point of view the proposal for more spending on federal social programs bothered him.
The opening participial phrase is misplaced because it is intended to modify him, not the proposal. A possible revision would be: Espousing a conservative point of view, he was bothered by the proposal for more spending on federal social programs.

12. Absorbed in an interesting conversation my scheduled appointment time passed unnoticed.
The opening participial phrase is dangling because it modifies a term that doesn't appear in the sentence: I, that is, the person having the conversation. The "scheduled appointment time" couldn't have been "absorbed in an interesting conversation." A possible revision would be: Absorbed in an interesting conversation, I allowed my scheduled appointment time to pass unnoticed.

 

Infinitives

Exercise Answers:

Underline the infinitive phrase and label the way it is used in the sentence.

1. I want to go. [noun/direct object]
2. I want you to go home. [noun/direct object]
3. We want to see the play. [noun/direct object]
4. To see a shooting star is good luck. [noun/subject]
5. To fight against those odds would be ridiculous. [noun/subject]
6. To design a new building for them would be challenging. [noun/subject]
7. I want him to be my bodyguard. [noun/direct object]
8. Jim is expected to program computers at his new job. [noun/direct object]
9. They will try to build a new stadium in ten years. [noun/direct object]
10. To distill a quart of moonshine takes two hours. [noun/subject]
11. The president wants to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. [noun/direct object]
12. She has the money to buy it. [adjective/modifying money]
13. We demonstrated to attract attention to our agenda. [adverb/modifying demonstrated; note that to our agenda is a prepositional phrase, not an infinitive phrase]
14. I do not like to give poor grades. [noun/direct object]
15. The dogs were taught to stand, to sit, and to bark on command. [nouns/direct objects]
16. To be great is to be true to yourself and to the highest principles of honor. [nouns: 1. subject; 2. subject complement; note that to yourself and to the highest principles of honor are both prepositional phrases, not infinitive phrases]
17. To see is to believe. [nouns: 1. subject; 2. subject complement]

 

Now try these exercises:

http://www.ego4u.com/en/cram-up/grammar/infinitive-gerund/exercises?21

http://web2.uvcs.uvic.ca/elc/studyzone/410/grammar/gerinf1.htm

This next one is for advanced level

http://www.englishpage.com/gerunds/gerunds_infinitives_30.htm