Recently I have studied about the differences between a verbal noun with the -ing suffix and a gerund. I know that we can use the articles and the preposition "of" with a verbal noun but we can't use these both with a gerund. But I still have problem with using it. For example, are we allowed to use the -ing form of any verb along with the articles and the preposition "of"?

For example, in the phrase "the abating of the storm", is "abating" a gerund or a verbal noun? If it is a gerund, are we allowed to use all verbs in this form?

  • 1
    It would be helpful if you could give some examples in your question.
    – Mick
    Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 19:07
  • For example in sentence "the abating of the storm" , "abating" is a gerund or a verbal noun. If it is a gerund, are we allowed to use all verb in this form?
    – Hamid
    Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 19:27
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    You ask if abating is a "gerund or a verbal noun", but a gerund is a verbal noun. There is no difference between the two. A gerund is what we call the noun form of a verb. Every verb has its gerund. That gerund can be used like any other noun. Just as we can talk about the ferocity of the storm, we can talk about the abating of the storm. There's nothing special about using of or any other preposition after a gerund. We can say coming to the house or leaving for the city or running over a cat. Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 20:21
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    P. E. Dant's comment is incorrect; for details please see chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/48770/a-gerund-is-not-a-noun In the abating of the storm, it is a noun rather than a gerund, which we can tell because it has the form of a noun phrase, complete with a determiner and of-phrase, because it takes adjectival rather than adverbial modification, and so on.
    – user230
    Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 20:29
  • 1
    I can't help but think this question is better suited for ELU since few native speakers are going to care to split these hairs.
    – Andrew
    Commented Nov 23, 2016 at 23:49

3 Answers 3


If you can put a determiner in front of it, then it's a noun.

The running was hard on his body. (verbal noun)

Him giving her the money made his mom mad. (gerund)

His backtalking resulted in punishment. (verbal noun)


Perhaps the following may help everyone here:

"A verbal noun is a noun that has no verb-like properties despite being derived from a verb. This means that a verbal noun can be modified by adjectives, be pluralized (if the sense allows), and be followed by a prepositional phrase." (Source: http://www.grammar-monster.com/glossary/verbal_nouns.htm)


"A verbal noun is different from a gerund. A gerund is a noun that, having derived from a verb, retains a few verb-like properties. For example, a gerund can be modified by an adverb and can take a direct object." (Source: http://www.grammar-monster.com/glossary/verbal_nouns.htm)

Please take a look at the source URL for more detailed information.


Gerund and verbal nouns are lookalikes. If we consider their origins and functions they are identical twins with the only difference that verbal nouns appear commonly prefixed by ' the ' and followed by 'of'; but that's not the rule of thumb.

  • We are waiting for the abating of the storm.(VN)
  • He likes reading books {books for reading (G)}.

Better is it to say that Gerunds are double parts of speech (both verb and noun) whereas Verbal nouns become absolute nouns and loses the verbal identity altogether. It is better to put your -ing word to the acid test as suggested by LawrenceC hereinabove.

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