Let us consider this sentence, comparing Latin and Greek languages :

"They have many formal similarities, both depending a good deal on endings"

1)Why did we use a gerund (depending) here? Can we use a verb (depend) instead? How will the meaning change?

2)Is the word "endings" a gerund here?

1 Answer 1


It uses a gerund because it is a gerund clause, modifying the whole sentence. If you used a finite verb, this would be an independent clause, and would need either to be a separate sentence, or be linked with a suitable conjunction.

Ending is a noun which is derived from a gerund, but it does not mean "an act of ending" as a gerund would. It means "the particular sequence of sounds with which a form of a word ends".

  • Can I say: "They have many formal similarities, that both depend a good deal on endings", instead?
    – X Y
    Jan 23, 2020 at 2:10
  • @XY: I find that a bit awkward, perhaps because it is not quite clear what the role of the that clause is in the sentence; but I think it is grammatical.
    – Colin Fine
    Jan 23, 2020 at 19:48
  • Suppose it is: "They have many formal similarities, both depend a good deal on endings"... (without that). What will it be?
    – X Y
    Jan 24, 2020 at 4:39
  • @XY: that would be a run-on sentence
    – Colin Fine
    Jan 24, 2020 at 10:55
  • Ok, I am very grateful to you. Only the last question: there are a lot of words that end with "ing", but they are not gerunds, what types can they be? If you know them (the types), please cite them to me.
    – X Y
    Jan 25, 2020 at 19:53

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