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I am given two questions and I have to identify whether the gerund is used as subject, object, complement, or used after a preposition.

  1. Asking questions is easier than answering them.

  2. He preferred playing football to studying his lessons.

Answer is

In the first sentence the gerund answering is used as complement of the verb is and in the second sentence the gerund studying is used as object of the preposition to.

But what I think is the structure of both the sentences is the same and both of the gerunds are objects of preposition(excluding the gerund asking).

Am I right?

Thanks in advance

  • Where from did you get these info? – Man_From_India May 3 at 0:08
  • @Man_from. Wren and Martin – Piyush Yadav May 10 at 2:48
  • I can understand about the second sentence, because this is how you see it in a classical traditional grammar book. But what you said about the first sentence in your question is really dubious. I really wonder if the book really says it. Could you please recheck it once again please? – Man_From_India May 10 at 16:15
  • Piyush, Your first sentence is an example of Term Comparison. The comparative clause - answering them is a Gerund-Participial Clause and is associated with the second term. And this clause is the complement of the Preposition Phrase (PP) - than answering them, which (I mean the PP) is in tern governed by the Adjective - better. And the Adjective Phrase (AdjP) is easier than answering them. And so, on the sentence level it is Noun Phrase - Asking questions (Subject) + Copular Verb - is (Predicator) + AdjP - easier than answering them (Subject oriented Predicative Complement). – Man_From_India May 12 at 4:27
  • And one more point to add here. 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 is written like the object of the preposition, rather you will see something like complement of the preposition. – Man_From_India May 12 at 6:53
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I believe you are correct.

The gerund in the first sentence you posted is the object of the preposition "than". That prepositional phrase can be removed and the sentence would still be correct:

Asking questions is easier.

You can do the exact same thing to the second sentence:

He prefers playing football.

A gerund used as a complement is usually required for the sentence to make sense:

Her intent is running for office.

Her intent is for office. (This doesn't make sense)

0

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.

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