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It's my understanding that gerunds are verbs +ing used as nouns. But I'm not sure about the following sentences.

It's within walking distance of my apartment.

I see more older people walking these days.

Please explain it to me.

Thank you.

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  • English is anomalous in this, having (as I understand) lost the original participle and replaced it with a gerund construction, originally of the form on doing (compare at work), which wore down to a-doing and then doing. So the same form has two distinct roles. Mar 23, 2023 at 6:36

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Many grammarians today do not distinguish between participles and gerunds. However, I think that if you do make that distinction, "walking" in "walking distance" is better regarded as a gerund. Compare "cough medicine" or "door frame". We often use nouns to modify other nouns. The noun does not thereby become an adjective.

In "a walking man", "walking" is undoubtedly a participle, but in "walking distance", it isn't the distance that is walking - rather, it's a distance suitable for walking.

On the other hand, in "I see them walking", "walking" is a participle, but to regard it as adjective-like is an error, because it is analogous to the use of nonfinite "walk" (a bare infinitive, which is unambiguously a verb): "I see them walk" has almost the same meaning and almost the same structure as "I see them walking".

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Neither one of those are gerunds, but instead participle adjectives.

In "walking distance" "distance" is the noun; "walking" modifies it.

In "more older people walking" "people" is the noun; "walking" modifies it.

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Walking is a present participle.

present participle= verb + ing

A present participle is used as an adjective. It is also used in the continuous tenses (to show the continuous action).

walking distance- 'Distance' is a noun. 'Walking' modifies the noun 'distance'. So walking is a present participle.

I am walking. 'Walking' is a present participle.

I see... walking... Here 'walking' is a present participle.

gerund= verb + ing

A gerund is used as a noun.

Walking is a good exercise. 'Walking' is the subject and it is a gerund.

I enjoy walking. 'Walking' is the object and it is a gerund.

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