Gerund! (The Basics) - Podcast Episode 11

Audio Transcript:
Gerund! (The Basics)

Welcome to episode 11 of The English Sessions. Gerund (The Basics). I am your host and English teacher, Mike Butler. These podcasts can help you improve your English! Together, we will talk about grammar… pronunciation… structure... and have some fun too. Remember to visit my website, to contact me for private lessons, and for more content.
You can also read the transcript of this audio on the website, as you listen to this episode.

Listen for these words today:

    •    Joy - “Joy” is a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. “I experience ‘joy’ when I go for a walk in nature”
"Joy" with a gerund phrase!
    •    Baking - is a type of cooking. Some examples of common things that are baked are cakes, cookies and bread.
    •    To be on the right track - “to be on the right track” is a phrase that means that you are acting or thinking in a way that will lead to success. “My son struggled with math, so I hired a tutor for him, and now he is on the right track”.

There are few things that confuse my learners more than the gerund. Today, I will try to explain, in the easiest way possible, what this is. Words that are gerunds end in the letters “ING”. The gerund is related to many problems that my students have, and I promise you there will be more episodes related to the gerund in the future. This is just the basics.

I have a question for you. What is the difference in GRAMMAR between these two sentences?
1. I like baking
2. I am baking

Both have ING endings, baking. So, do both #1 and #2 have a gerund in the sentence? Well, let’s decide together.

The gerund is the term that is used to describe SOME of the words in English that end in the letters ING. There are other words that end in ING that are NOT gerunds. So, tip #1, SOME “ING” words are gerunds, but not all of them.

Tip #2, a gerund has a very specific purpose. It functions like a noun. It can replace a subject or object in a sentence. In the structure of a sentence, it is important to think of the gerund as replacing the noun, or pronoun. It is true that the gerund originates from an English verb, but it does NOT function like a verb in a sentence. This is why sometimes you will see a gerund referred to as a ‘verbal noun’ (

For example, let’s look at a very basic structure. Subject + verb + object. I enjoy pizza. “I” is the subject, ‘enjoy’ is the verb, ‘pizza’ is the object. “Pizza” is a noun, right? Yes! Okay, then we can put a gerund there instead of the noun. Here is an example sentence with a gerund. “I enjoy eating”. “I enjoy eating” . We still have a subject “I”, a verb, ‘enjoy’, and an object, ‘eating’!! ‘Eating’ is now the object in the sentence, instead of the noun, ‘pizza’. It has the same function in the sentence.

The gerund has a lot of power! You can create gerund phrases. Gerund phrases have more than one word. Here is an example, “I enjoy eating pizza”. “Eating pizza ” now replaces the object. We can keep going with it!! Gerund phrases can have many words!! I enjoy eating pizza with my friends. I enjoy eating pizza with friends and family. Now we have one long gerund phrase as the object, ‘eating pizza with friends and family’. A long gerund phrase!  

You can easily have a gerund or gerund phrase as the subject too. For example, “eating pizza is great”. Now, ‘eating pizza’, the gerund phrase, is the subject in the sentence.

The word, “gerund” is from Latin. In Latin based languages, there are words similar to the ‘gerund’ in English. In Spanish, for example, ‘gerund’ translates to ‘gerundio’. Here is the problem though, the ‘gerundio’ in Spanish does not have the same grammatical function as the ‘gerund’ in English. Yes, It’s true! It causes so much confusion! This may be similar in your language as well. Write in to the podcast, and we can have a discussion about it! I will devote an entire episode to the difference between the gerund and the ‘gerundio’ for my Spanish learners, in a future episode. Perhaps as bonus material on the Patreon page.

So, to recap, the gerund functions like a noun. It can be the subject or the object in a sentence.

Here are some more examples of the gerund in sentences:
    ▪    I am looking forward to eating pizza
    ▪    Thank you for eating pizza with me
    ▪    This is in regard to eating pizza
    ▪    I have no problems with eating pizza
    ▪    Eating pizza is the greatest joy in the world

Can you tell that I really like pizza? Okay, just to REALLY REALLY make myself clear, I am going to replace all of these gerund phrases with pronouns. Pronouns can often be a subject or an object in a sentence, right? So, if you can replace your gerund or gerund phrase with a pronoun, then you’re on the right track. Here we go:

    ▪    I am looking forward to eating pizza = I am looking forward to it
    ▪    Thank you for eating pizza with me = Thank you for this
    ▪    This is in regard to eating pizza = This is in regard to that
    ▪    I have no problems with eating pizza = I have no problems with it
    ▪    Eating pizza is the greatest joy in the world = It is the greatest joy in the world

Do you remember the question at the beginning of the episode? What is the difference in GRAMMAR between these two sentences?
1. I like baking
2. I am baking

#1 has a gerund. “Baking” is the object. I like baking. I like that. I like it.
#2 does not have a gerund. #2 is using ‘baking’ as a verb. #2 is a sentence in the present continuous/progressive verb tense. It is not subject + verb + object. It is subject + verb + verb. Remember what I said before, there are different ways to use ING endings. Not all ING endings are verbs!

Any questions? Write to me at . Leave a message for me on the website, and I will play it on the podcast. Make sure to subscribe to this podcast so you won’t miss an episode. Visit for more content. Please rate and review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Until next time, this is Mike signing off.


  1. Now saying "I'm looking forward to doing something" instead of "to do something" makes sense. Thanks Mike!


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