If someone say "non-radiating objects"... Does he mean : objects that do not have emission of radiation ?

If yes, why do we not say "non-radiator objects" ? What is the difference?

  • Yours is a question about usage, and not about gerunds. (See RS's answer below for an explanation of why your example doesn't contain a gerund.) Radiate means to spread out from a central point, which is why it's specifically the verb for radioactive substances, but that means that "non-radiating objects" could be those not fanned out from a central source. We don't say "non-radiator objects" because radiator already has meanings as something that cools car engines and heats rooms. You're talking about "non-radioactive objects" or "radioactively-inert objects."
    – user105719
    Feb 3, 2020 at 0:52
  • Forget the term 'gerund'. The prefix "non" in "non-radiating" yields a negative verb phrase functioning as attributive modifier "objects".
    – BillJ
    Feb 3, 2020 at 8:59

1 Answer 1


Not all words that end in ing are gerunds. And in the phrase non-radiating objects, radiating is not a gerund.

So your question is based on a misunderstanding. (But yes a non-radiating object would be an object that does not emit radiation.)

A gerund is a verb form that functions as a noun. In your example radiating functions as an adjective, modifying objects; it's known as a participial adjective.

Whether a verb form is a gerund or a participial adjective depends on how it is used. For example, in the following sentences words ending in ing are used as gerunds:

His asking her to marry him came as a great surprise.
They loved swimming in the sea.
The quality of her singing impressed the audience.

But the ing words in the following expressions are functioning as adjectives, not gerunds:

A boiling kettle
A leaking tap
A sprinting athlete
An aching muscle

Although we often combine two nouns (whether as a single word, hyphenated or in sequence), so that the first functions as an adjective (toothbrush, shoe-lace, coffee mug) the combination radiator object is not in common use.


  • Thanks for your great answer, only two questions, 1 - is the word hacking in "ethical hacking" a gerund or not? 2 - What is the difference between "implementing security is not easy" and "security implementing is not easy"?
    – X Y
    Feb 3, 2020 at 1:40
  • It is a noun. We do not modify a gerund with an adjective.
    – Hunter
    Feb 3, 2020 at 3:48
  • See the following for a guide on whether to modify a gerund with an adverb or an adjective: : reddit.com/r/grammar/comments/4wtxyk/… Feb 3, 2020 at 10:04
  • I'd say that the ing words in your last four examples are verb phrases, not adjectives. In your first three examples, "asking is a verb, "swimming" is ambiguous between a verb and a noun, though verb preferred, and "singing" is of course a noun.
    – BillJ
    Feb 3, 2020 at 11:51

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