Is "using" a preposition? For example: I fight using my sword. or I write using the keyboard.

Is it a preposition or it's something else?

  • 1
    No, but the preposition "by" has been omitted."I fight [by] using my sword." Using is a gerund - a kind of noun made from a verb. – Billy Kerr Jan 14 '18 at 15:58
  • 1
    @Billy Kerr: Nah - it's not a gerund, it's a continuous verb form. Potentially an ambiguous usage, at that. Consider Smacking children is bad, so I fight smacking wherever I can, which is a gerund usage. If we interpret my example based on the syntax of OP's example (which as you say has an implied by omitted), it fails on purely semantic grounds. – FumbleFingers Jan 14 '18 at 17:41
  • No, "using" is a gerund-participle verb functioning as head of the gerund-participial clauses "using my sword" and "using the keyboard", both of which are adjuncts (probably of 'instrument'). – BillJ Jan 14 '18 at 17:56
  • @FumbleFingers Ah, I think we could argue about gerunds, present participles and continuous verb forms forever. You could be right. – Billy Kerr Jan 14 '18 at 17:57
  • 1
    @BillyKerr Which is why modern grammar calls the ing form a gerund-participle. But the OP's example is not the progressive (continuous) aspect, at least not syntactically, since gerund-participial clauses do not accept the progressive auxiliary "be" (cf. "I am using my sword"). – BillJ Jan 14 '18 at 18:12

-ing form of the verb is a non finite verb form that serves the function of other parts of speech in addition to its functioning as a verbal, the limitation being that it can't convey the sense of completion a finite verb does.

In the above examples ” using" discharges adverbial function by modify the verb of the respective sentences. I wouldn't call it gerund ( non finite noun form) but participle ( non finite form used both as adjective or adverb).


"Using" is a participle, but it is an unusual participle in that "using" frequently acts like a preposition.

"I fought him using a sword" means the same as any of the following.

"I fought him with a sword." We clearly would classify ""with" as a preposition.

"Using a sword, I fought him." We would classify "using" as a participle used as an adjective modifying "I." This construction is grammatical, but not usual.

"I fought him by using a sword." We would classify "using" as a participle used as a gerund. This latter form, I suspect, has created by ellipsis the locution of "using" as a quasi-preposition. And that phrase is adverbial in function by describing how the subject fought.

  1. I fought with him using the sword.
  2. Using sword is not good for children.

The verb's form is yes, present participle.... Yet, second using is gerund because it has played the role of nominative action.

First I think is not gerund to be told, though it can be called a verb form that we say differently as verb 4, present participle or gerund form. Gerund with its original role and Gerund form are different.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.