Abolishing debt-based currency isn’t a new idea, but it could hold the secret to ending our economies’ environmentally damaging addiction to growth

Is "ing" used in order to make "ending" a noun? And is it correct saying a secret to [noun]? For example the secret to the [something] defeat of the enemy was...

Thank you

  • 2
    No, certainly not! In "ancient" grammar, "ending" would be analysed as a gerund (a word formed from a verb base which functions as or like a noun). But forget that; modern grammars would analyse "ending" as a verb as can be seen by the way it takes an object, in this case the noun phrase "our economies environmentally ...". The entire expression "ending our economies’ environmentally damaging addiction to growth" is thus a participial clause functioning as complement to the preposition "to".
    – BillJ
    Nov 7, 2016 at 19:26

1 Answer 1


Yes, the -ing form of the verb is called a gerund and it is used to make a verb into a noun. In fact everything after "secret to ..." is a phrase that acts as a noun.

It was the secret to [winning at poker / the evil sorcerer's power / my success / etc.]

In your second example, "[something]" isn't even necessary if you use a gerund:

The secret to defeating the enemy was ...

The secret to riding the perfect wave is ...

The secret to making a souffle is ...

and so on.

In general, a gerund or gerund phrase works like any other noun. It can be the subject of a sentence, or the object, or even part of another phrase.

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