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My question is - what part of the speech does "submitting" belong to in the following statement:

I have finished submitting my assignment.

Note: I am aware that this is a poorly constructed sentence and it would have been better to say "I have submitted my assignment" but I want to improve my understanding of concepts like gerunds and participles and was wondering if "submitting" played the role of participle here, qualifying the noun (my assignment).

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That is a gerund/participle, and heads the phrase "submitting my assignment". I this case you could categorise it as a gerund, and an object of "finish", or you can classify "finish" as one of those verbs (eg enjoy, hate, remember) that can be complemented by a participle phrase.

Thus it is probably better to simply say that in modern English, gerunds and present participles have merged to give a single type "gerund/participle"

Either way, "my assignment" is the object of "submitting"

If you had said "my submitting assignment", that would be a modifier of "assignment", but it would have the very odd meaning of "my assignment that submits". Since only people (or animals?) can submit that would be a very odd phrase. "My submitted assignment" is better, as it means "my assignment that (someone, I) have submitted"

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  • Agreed, it's an unlikely sequence, but surely my submitting assignment would most naturally be interpreted as an assignment involving submitting (an assignment intended to teach the student how to concede gracefully, or send off required paperwork, as the case may be! :) Same as I submitted my painting assignment yesterday. Commented Jun 13, 2021 at 13:16
  • I suppose that is possible.
    – James K
    Commented Jun 13, 2021 at 14:03

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