Grammar Basics: Verbal (Gerunds, Participles and Infinitives)

In this series of articles, we help you learn and revise the basics of English Grammar. These would go a long way in helping you understand the rules of Grammar. Use these articles as a revision tool in your spare time.
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Verbal are words that express action in a general sense, without limiting the action to any time, or asserting it to any subject. They basically refer to words that are based on a verb but are not used as a verb; rather they are used as nouns or adjectives.
There are 3 types of Verbal:
  • Gerunds,
  • Participles and
  • Infinitives
A gerund is a verbal that ends in '-ing' and functions as a noun. In other words, when a verb becomes a noun, it is called gerund. Since it functions as a noun, it occupies the same position in a sentence that a noun ordinarily would such as subject, direct object, subject complement, and object of preposition. Words like swimming, tying, dreaming, eating, fishing, and drinking can all be used as gerunds. 
List of sentences with gerunds:
  • Traveling might satisfy your desire for new experiences.
  • Blowing bubbles on a windy day is a fun activity for children. ('Blowing bubbles on a windy day' is the subject of the verb 'is'.)
  • Piling too much laundry into a washing machine will cause it to malfunction. ('Piling too much laundry into a washing machine' is the subject of the verb 'will cause'.)
  • Ethan narrowly avoided driving off the cliff. ('Driving off the cliff' is the direct object of the verb 'avoided'.)
  • Eating ice cream on a hot day can be a good way to cool off. ('Eating ice cream on a hot day' is the subject of the verb 'can be'.)
  • Jessica really enjoys bothering the neighbors with loud music. ('Bothering the neighbors with loud music' is the direct object of the verb 'enjoys'.)
A participle is a verbal that is used as an adjective and most often ends in -ing or -ed. It has some features of verbs and some of adjectives, but it is basically a type of adjective. There are two types of participles: Present participles and Past participles.
Present participles usually describe what a thing does and Past Participles usually describe what was done to a thing.
  • She is buying a talking bird for her daughter. [Present Participle]
  • A broken clock stood on the mantelpiece. [Past Participle]
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An infinitive is a verbal consisting of the word 'to' plus a verb and functioning as a noun, adjective or adverb.
Example: To wait seemed foolish when action was required.
Note: Be sure not to confuse an infinitive, a verbal consisting of 'to' +verb with a prepositional phrase beginning with to, which consists of 'to'+ a noun or pronoun and any modifiers.
Verbal: Key Learning
  • After reviewing the three types of verbal's, practice identifying participles, gerunds, and infinitives in sentences.
  • Focus, Practice and Confidence are the main mantras of successful attempts!
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