That's a misunderstanding.

Why do you say "a misunderstanding", instead of that's misunderstanding?

Why do you need an article for this gerund?

  • 4
    It's not a gerund; it's a noun that is usually non-count, but can be count as well.
    – BillJ
    Commented Sep 15, 2016 at 7:12

2 Answers 2


Misunderstanding is a noun both countable and uncountable:

  • [ C or U ] an occasion when someone does not understand something correctly:

    • There must be some misunderstanding. I never asked for these chairs to be delivered.
    • His ridiculous comments showed a complete misunderstanding of the situation.

(Cambridge Dictionary)

Other usage examples:

  • If there is any misunderstanding and discord between you and Mary, I can't blame her for it at a all.

  • There are materials for misunderstanding here.

  • "I am very, very grateful to you," she said in French, "but I hope it was all a misunderstanding and that no one is to blame for it."

  • -1 What is the source of these "other usage examples"? (If they're on Cambridge, they are not on the linked page on mobile view.) Commented Sep 17, 2016 at 14:12

Words that end in -ing are not always gerunds or -ing forms of verbs. For example,

building is very often used as a noun

That's a building you don't want to enter.

Yet, building can be a gerund:

Building a building is hard work.

The bolded building is a gerund. The building after the indefinite article is a count noun that is not considered a gerund.

The same applies to misunderstanding. It is a common noun, just like building. And that's how it is used in the sentence you ask about.

But it can be a gerund:

Misunderstanding you makes me ill.

(Historically, building and similar words used as common nouns may have originated as gerunds, but I'm not sure.)


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