Consider the sentences below:
There is no point in breaking the seal.
They were entertaining the troops.
In the sentences above, traditional grammar call breaking a Gerund and entertaining a Present Participle.
Consider the Gerund - breaking. The verb lexeme is break, and the form of Gerund is breaking.
Consider the Present Participle - entertaining. The verb lexeme is entertain, and the form of Present Participle is entertaining.
Interesting both the Gerund and Present Participle has the same form. There is no verb lexeme that has different form for Gerund and Present Participle, And hence there is no ground for saying that Gerund and Present Participle have different inflectional form.
Historically, the suffix ing is derived from traditional grammar's Gerund and Present Participle. The suffix ing that is derived from Gerund used to form noun from verb. Over the period it started to expand its territory and ended up licensing dependents that are not only associated with Nouns (hunting of rhinos) but that that are associated with Verbs too (hunting the rhinos). And it is this extension that gives rise to Nominal Gerund and Verbal Gerund. But the traditional definition of Gerund ('Verbal Noun') fails to recognise that it is actually a verb in case of Verbal Gerund.
So in Modern Approach, we don't have Gerund and Present Participle as two separate category, rather we will group them under the term Gerund-Participial. However, we classify the verb+ing into three:
- Gerund-Participial form of verb (relevant to the question here)
- Gerundial Noun
- Participial Adjective
For reading further, please refer to my other answer on this topic.
Asking questions is easier than answering them.
In the sentence above asking and answering is Gerund-Participial form of verb. The predicator (function) is realized by the verb - is, and it takes two complements - Subject (realized by a Gerund-Participial clause - Asking questions) and Subject Oriented Predicative Complement (realized by an Adjective Phrase - easier than answering them).
Inside the Predicative Complement, the head adjective is easier and it licenses a complement realised by a Preposition Phrase (PP) - than answering them. Inside the PP, the head preposition is than and it takes a complement realized by a Gerund-Participial cause (answering them) which is formed from the Gerund-Participial form of verb - answering,
He preferred playing football to studying his lessons.
studying his lessons is the complement of the preposition to. And playing football is the Object of the verb - preferred.
Object is a kind of complement and it is relevant/restricted within the territory of Verb Phrase, as far as I know. But I understand in traditional grammar it may be (mis)used the way you put it. In modern books you will never see it written like the object of the preposition, rather you will see something like complement of the preposition.