Ive just found some phrase where I'm not sure if they used a gerund or participle clause. It goes as

If you are spending your time watching TV...

And I'm asking myself, why is the gerund used? Is it used, because the verb is

to spend something with something

and because of "with" you have to use the gerund after preposition?

  • You are free to say "If you spend your time watching TV ..." Aug 11, 2022 at 15:32
  • The progressive construction is not a gerund and is not a participle. Aug 11, 2022 at 16:07
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    But that's a verb form (the "present active participle" form, aka the -ing form), not a construction. It's not a "participle" construction, and it's not a "gerund" construction. It's just a form of the verb that's required after the be auxiliary verb in the progressive construction, just like the "perfect passive participle" (e.g, spent) is required after the have auxiliary of the perfect construction, which isn't a participle construction, either. Aug 11, 2022 at 17:49
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    Surely the "gerund" here is watching, not spending. But "watching TV" looks more like an adverb than a noun (cf alternatives such as "wisely", that could occur in the same position in the text). Aug 11, 2022 at 18:15
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    When quoting a text here, please give the source, ideally title and author with a link. Also please give complete sentences. Aug 11, 2022 at 20:15

1 Answer 1


A word that takes the base form of a verb, and adds "-ing" can be either a gerund, or a present participle, depending on how it is used. Such a word can be used to function as a noun, in which case it is a gerund. Or it can be used to function as an adjective or as an adverb, in which case it is a present participle. Or it can be used to form a sentence using the progressive tense or progressive aspect (both terms are used for the same constructions). In this case some call it a participle, and some just call it an "-ing form".

A gerund derived from a verb usually describes the act associated with that verb. For example, when one swims, one is performing the act of swimming. When one watches, one is performing the act of watching.

The phrase:

If you are spending your time watching TV...

includes two -ing forms. The second, "watching TV" is indeed a gerund. It describes the act associated with the phrasal verb "watch TV". It functions as a noun. (Because gerunds are derived from verbs, they can have objects, so "TV" is here the direct object of the gerund "watching", and the two together function s a noun, the name of the activity.)

The first "-ing" form is part of a progressive present construction "are spending", a verb form describing an activity now in progress and continuing, or one that is habitual.

So one -ing is used in the example to form a progressive, and the second is used to name an action.

  • I don't see anything noun-like in "watching TV ...". The clause is a depictive adjunct giving descriptive information about the referent of "you". Call it an adverbial if you like.
    – BillJ
    Aug 12, 2022 at 7:13

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