I'm bad at love (ooh-ooh)
But you can't blame me for tryin'
You know I'd be lyin' sayin'
You were the one (ooh-ooh)
That could finally fix me
Lookin' at my history
I'm bad at love

-- Bad at love by Halsey

Is saying a gerund in these lyrics?

2 Answers 2


Saying is not a gerund here: it does not head a clause playing the role of a noun phrase.

The clause saying you were the one that could finally fix me is probably best understood as a participle clause (with the imputed subject I) acting as a complement to the verb lie: it designates the utterance which would constitute the lie. I advance this reading on the analogy of sentences like

They were satisfied hearing him apologize, and
He will be happy seeing her again,

where the participle clauses act as complements to the adjectives satisfied and happy, designating the source of the satisfaction or happiness.

In all these cases the clause could just as well be cast as a finite clause introduced by an appropriate preposition (or subordinating conjunction, if you're a traditionalist) or as an infinitival:

I would be lying if I said ...
They were satisfied when they heard ...
He will be happy to see ...

I'm ignoring the terminological debate over traditional grammar's distinction between gerund and participle. CGEL, which is widely regarded as 'authoritative', calls the -ing form "gerund-participle", regarding it as a single form with multiple uses.

  • oh yeah that's a participle. but how come two participles in one sentence? usually present participle comes after verbs in the forms of root (He walks reading his newspaper/ I'd like to see you knitting sometime/ I'm sorry, you'll never see me smoking weed again), past (I saw you watering the flowers in the garden), past participle (You've been caught cheating on me). but after progressive form it sounds weird. You know I'd be lying saying ?? what the hell?
    – user83680
    Oct 30, 2018 at 13:47
  • @user82287 It's ordinary, and acceptable even though it does mildly violate the horror aequi principle: in your example the two -ing forms are ideally suited to the singer's meter and rhythm. Oct 30, 2018 at 14:21
  • okay thank you . also I'd be lying is in progressive. So as far as I think It should be You know I'd be lying if I were saying not if I said...
    – user83680
    Oct 30, 2018 at 15:09
  • @user82287 Not necessarily Be lying in this sort of context doesn't indicate a process so much as a state, and "If I said" designating a hypothetical single event giving rise to the state is entirely acceptable; "if I were saying" would be used to designate a continuous or repeated event. Oct 30, 2018 at 15:31
  • Yes that's what I said. Be lying is continuous. So shouldn't it be followed by continuous? (if I were saying)
    – user83680
    Oct 30, 2018 at 15:54

You know I'd be lyin', sayin' you were the one

This is a song lyric. You won't learn good English from song lyrics. Here is my paraphrase:

You know I'd be lying by saying you were the one.

Those are clearly participles. You can replace a gerund with a noun. You can't replace a participle with a noun.


You know I'd be lying by speech you were the one. (A noun doesn't work here. Must be a participle)

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