Having forgotten him, he went away.

Is 'having' gerund or participle?

Is 'forgotten' gerund or participle?

And why?

  • "Forgotten" is a participle. The -en forms are never gerunds. This "having" is also a participle. Gerunds (and the phrases they form) do the kinds of job that nouns typically do. Here, "having forgotten him" is a supplemental modifier -- the kind of job that an adverb typically does. Oct 2, 2018 at 14:29
  • What is a compound gerund? Oct 2, 2018 at 17:58
  • Are having and forgotten one participle or each of them individual participles? Oct 2, 2018 at 18:08
  • 1
    "Having" is the kind of verb form that's called a present participle. "Forgotten" is the kind of verb form that's called a past participle. "Him" is the singular objective third-person masculine pronoun. "Having forgotten him" is a complete participial phrase. That's three individual words (two of which happen to be participles) that form one coherent phrase. Oct 3, 2018 at 21:08
  • Also, using two masculine pronouns (him and he) for two different people is not a good idea, especially if the context gives no clues to tell which does what.
    – amI
    Oct 4, 2018 at 1:16

2 Answers 2


Is 'having' gerund or participle?

For English -ing forms, the traditional distinction is that the term gerund is used for their noun-like uses (referring to the action), whereas the term present participle is used for their adjective-like uses (describing the actor); in your case, having is an example of the latter, so it is a present pariciple. (A similar example with a true adjective would be "Angry at having been forgotten, he […]").

That said, modern grammars of English do not always bother with this distinction, referring to -ing forms as "-ing forms" or gerund-participles or whatnot so as to avoid having to classify each usage in this way.

Is 'forgotten' gerund or participle?

It is a past participle. As applied to English, the term gerund only ever refers to -ing forms (which double as present participles), never to the -ed/-en forms.


Gerund phrases and Participial phrases sometimes look alike, but a participial phrase stands on its own, whereas a gerund phrase must be the subject or object of a verb.

Walking down the street, he noticed that there was a lot of litter on the pavement. - participial phrase

Walking down the street is not as safe as it used to be - gerund phrase, subject of is

One of my favourite activities is walking down the street - gerund phrase, object of is

In your sentence, having forgotten him is neither the subject nor the object of a verb, so it is a participial phrase. having is an active/present participle (the bit that makes it a participial phrase), and forgotten is a past participle.

  • "Is" does not take an object.
    – ruakh
    Feb 10, 2019 at 5:12

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