I study Gerund and Participle. Here’s a sentence in my textbook:

Can you hear Sam singing?

What is the part of speech of "Singing"?

  • Please clarify what you mean by 'What is 'singing' part of speech?'. Commented Feb 8, 2020 at 22:13
  • @hubbledeepfield it is just an error. It should be "what is the part of speech of 'singing'?" Commented Feb 9, 2020 at 0:19

1 Answer 1


The distinction between the gerund and present participle is no longer relevant. Quirk et al. (1985) and Huddleston & Pullum (2002) both reject it:

We conclude that there is no difference of form, function, or interpretation that correlates systematically with the traditional distinction between 'gerund' and 'present participle'. The distinction introduces an unmotivated complication into the grammar: it is one of the features of traditional grammar that should be discarded

Huddleston & Pullum (2002: 1222)

For this reason, Huddleston & Pullum (2002) use a single compound term gerund-participle that covers both traditional categories. The gerund-participle is a verb form. "Singing" here is therefore a verb in the form of gerund-participle.

  • What about the traditional distinction? Gerund or Participle?
    – ToB. CyxoB
    Commented Feb 9, 2020 at 6:32
  • @ToB. Traditionally it is a present participle because it functions as an adjective: it modifies the noun "Sam". In the modern grammar, "singing" is a gerund-participial clause functioning as a catenative complement. Commented Feb 9, 2020 at 8:09

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