I am confused about when a complement of a verb is a gerund. For instance He is going to school. here "going" is the complement of verb "is" yet not a gerund He is playing for Australia. Here "playing" is a complement of verb "is" and not a gerund. I don't understand what's different in the two cases

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    Hi, it's me from your recent one on "is playing"... both the examples in this question are not gerunds. Perhaps you should include an example that is a gerund - I think you are overlooking something obvious but I don't know what to say to get you there. Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 7:07
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    I'll throw out an idea; if you say "He likes playing." it is a gerund... if you say "He is playing" it is not a gerund. Commented Jan 20, 2021 at 7:09
  • Thanks you're right i was confusing finite verb with gerunds
    – Human2008
    Commented Feb 22, 2021 at 10:25

1 Answer 1


In your examples these are just the present continuous. This developed from using participles with forms of the verb "be". Nearly all cases of "be+ ...ing" will be present continuous tense. The example below is artificial and forced.

In fact the classes of "gerund" and "participle" are now so mixed in English that they might as well just be lumped together. There are really just verbs with the -ing suffix.

But let's take something that looks like a gerund: "my taking the bus". Now we can't say "the cat is my taking the bus" because cats are animals and the gerund is an action. But we can say:

My first mistake was my taking the bus.

A mistake can be an action. So this makes sense. The word "my" is repeated. If I drop the subject (remember gerunds often have subjects in the genitive form). We get a sentence that can be parsed in different ways

My first mistake was taking the bus.

Contrast that with

My first child was taking the bus.

Contextually the first only makes sense as a gerund, the second only makes sense as past continuous. The first sentence uses the gerund phrase to identify the "first mistake" was.

  • Thanks.This cleared it up
    – Human2008
    Commented Feb 22, 2021 at 10:18

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