In this video about the Diagramming of Gerunds and Gerund Phrases that guy is diagramming this sentence:

"Walking alone at night is scary."

He first categorised 'walking' as a noun since it is a verbal. However, he then proceeds to categorise 'alone at night' as an adverb modifying 'walking'. Shouldn't alone at night be an adjective since walking is a noun?

  • 'Walking alone at night' is a noun phrase. It's like 'Darkness is scary'/ Walking alone at night is scary. 'Alone at night' qualifies the verbal noun 'walking'.
    – Ram Pillai
    Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 6:58

1 Answer 1


The word "walking" is a gerund working as a noun, the subject of "is". The word "alone" is an adverb, and "at night" is a preposition phrase working as an adverb.

dailywritingtips "gerunds"

Like a verb, a gerund can take objects and be modified by adverbs and adverbial phrases, but its function in a sentence is to serve as a noun–a noun that ends in -ing.

  • I think I sort of understand what you mean. Please correct me if I interpreted your answer wrongly. Although 'walking' functions as a noun, it is not strictly a noun. Though it describes the concept of walking-which is a noun-'alone' modifies the action of walking. Together, 'walking' and 'alone' forms a noun phrase. In this sense, 'alone' doesn't function as an adjective because 'walking' is still ultimately a verb describing an action, thus requiring an adverb. Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 1:06
  • Yes, you have it right. Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 2:22
  • @LeeZhiyuan Walking is a noun in that sentence. But the word walking could be an adjective or a present participle in another sentence. The last sentence in your comment is correct.
    – Patriot
    Commented Feb 10, 2021 at 0:48

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