I can't understand why in examples beneath parts 'paying attention' and 'accepting payments' go without the + of.

1) I have friends who pride themselves in paying attention to detail. Maybe it is an adjective clause? (Like this: They write letters paying attention to detail.)

If I say ''the paying of attention to detail is important'' - it works as a large noun phrase. We use article+gerund+of+noun.

2) How do you go about accepting payments for clients? - the same thing. An adjective clause? If not, why does it go without an article+of? The king of the road; knight of a horde and so on.

3) How do you go about the acceptance of payments for clients? - a large noun phrase.

4) The accepting of payments is an important part of our business plan? It works.
But How do you go about the accepting of payments for clients? doesn't.

5) The skillful defusing of the bomb saved the day. Here we have the gerund packaged inside a prepositional phrase 'defusing of the bomb'
Aardvark’s quickly defusing the bomb saved the day - ...defusing the bomb...without OF...Why on earth does it go without of?

  • 1) and 2) don't require a determiner because they are verbs, not nouns. "Defusing" is also a verb in your last example, where it has "the bomb" as direct object. It would be a noun in "Aardvark’s quick defusing of the bomb saved the day", with adjectival "quick" and an of PP complement.
    – BillJ
    Mar 27, 2019 at 13:19

1 Answer 1


The difference arises from whether the '-ing' word is a true noun gerund, or a verb present participle.

The paying of attention is important.

'The paying' is a gerund/noun.

Paying attention is important.

Paying is a verb/present participle.

Aardvark's quick defusing of the bomb saved the day.

"Defusing" is a noun/gerund.

Quickly defusing the bomb, Aardvark saved the day.

"Defusing" is a verb/present participle.

If you have trouble telling if an '-ing' word is a participle or a gerund, try replacing it with a word you know is definitely a noun or verb to see if that clarifies the problem for you. If it can be replaced by a noun without '-ing' and still make sense, it is a gerund.

Aardvark's quick action (noun) saved the day.

Action (noun) is important.

  • 'he had witnessed the killing of the birds' - nouny gerund 'he was expelled for killing the birds' - verby gerund English is quirky Mar 27, 2019 at 15:18
  • 2
    @ThroughTheWonders "Killing" is noun in your first example, and a verb in the second. Noun status is evident fom "the", and the of PP complement. Verb status is clear from the direct object "the birds".
    – BillJ
    Mar 27, 2019 at 16:32
  • yes, I have somehow managed to get it. Thank you, guys! Mar 27, 2019 at 23:21

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .