For example:

"Some websites allow categorization, editing, and listening of playlists online." (Wikipedia)

As I know, a gerund can't be followed by the preposition "of". Is this sentence wrong, or is the preposition present here because the word "categorization" is kind of defining (and it needs the preposition "of" after it)?

I've also heard that gerunds can become nouns, if you write them with the definite article, and in this case the preposition "of" is necessary. Is it true? If so, is it the rule I'm looking for?


Thank you for the answers. You all say that it is possible to use the preposition "of" with gerunds, though I've found the opposite information.

http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/threads/59703-Prepositions-after-Gerunds https://www.englishforums.com/English/PrepositionAfterAGerund/bzwdhh/post.htm

Are there any rules for using "of" with gerunds? Is the information given by the links incorrect? If so, is it possible to use "of" with all gerunds followed by direct objects? In this case, is there any sense to operate with the term "verbal noun"? If yes, what would be the difference in using a gerund or a verbal noun?

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    Your assertion that a gerund can't be followed by the preposition "of" seems false to me. I believe the sentence "Some websites allow editing of playlists online." is perfectly grammatical. Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 3:09
  • I've found several answers in the Internet on this question. I'm not sure if it's ok to use links here. They say the gerund cannot be followed by the preposition "of", it has a double character - nominal and verbal. Also, the gerund of a transitive verb takes a direct object. I believe the verb "edit" doesn't take any preposition after it (like "listen to"), so it seems to me that it should take a direct object with no preposition. Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 9:49
  • But, as I've mentioned, gerunds are often confused with verbal nouns: those have only the nominal character and are used with the definite article. They also require the preposition "of" after them, as they take not direct, but prepositional objects after them. So is "editing" a gerund or a noun in this case? If it is a verbal noun, why is it used with no article? Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 9:49
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    Actually, you could say “allow editing playlists online” as well as “allow editing of playlists online”. Yes, please post a link. I really don’t think there is any prohibition against following a gerund with “of”. Famous examples: “The Taming of the Shrew”, “tolling of the bell”, “changing of the guard”, “the Raising of Lazarus”, “howling of the wind”, and many more.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 10:08
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    There's a lot of confusion out there about gerunds, and much of this is due to traditional grammar. Many grammar usage manuals out there are wrong too, so that doesn't help. You probably ought to find a vetted grammar source and use it: I prefer the framework done by the 2002 reference grammar by Huddleston and Pullum et al., The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, (CGEL). Maybe there's something online that explains the difference between gerundial noun and present-participial adjective and the verbs (gerund and present participle).
    – F.E.
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 22:44

2 Answers 2


Strictly speaking, the sentence is incorrect because listening of playlists is ungrammatical (unless the playlists are doing the listening). Since categorization takes of and editing takes of but listening takes to, you have to write this:

Some websites allow categorization of, editing of, and listening to playlists online.

This is grammatically correct but it sounds very clumsy. If each noun took the same preposition, you could use the same preposition for all three:

Some websites allow categorization, editing, and playing of playlists online.

This is grammatically correct but it sounds even clumsier because of the repetition of play. People would rather make a subtle grammatical error than write a sentence that sounds this clumsy.

The fact that the first two of the nouns take of probably led people to ignore the incorrect listen of for almost ten years now.

Another “fudge” solution is to choose the preposition to agree with only the nearest noun even if it disagrees with all the others, known as “proximate agreement”:

Some websites allow categorization, editing, and listening to playlists online.

There is, however, a better way:

Some websites allow users to categorize, edit, and listen to playlists online.

This is clearer because the users are mentioned explicitly, and the nominalized verbs are replaced with plain old infinitive verbs. The preposition to only agrees with listen, but that's OK: categorize and edit are transitive verbs, which take an object without any preposition at all. So, to connects only with listen and there is no disagreement with categorize and edit. So, this version has perfect grammar as well as greater clarity.

By the way, many gerunds do take of. For example: editing of playlists, feeding of animals, planting of gardens, singing of songs, etc. Also, gerunds normally function as nouns. In the original sentence, editing and listening are objects of allow, just like categorization.

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    I understand the "listening to" moment, but I am still confused with "editing of". I've given some information in the comment earlier on the page, is it incorrect? I couldn't find any information on gerunds taking the preposition "of" after them. I also use infinitives in the form "allow the user to" for replacement in difficult moments, but I really want to clear this question for myself) Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 9:54
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    @1010 “Playing of” is correct. But “playing of playlists” sounds clumsy, especially at the end of the list of three actions, so I can see why someone would want to avoid writing it.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 14:59
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    @1010 Yes, here are some. "A military funeral ends with the playing of taps." "Some states prohibit the playing of poker for money." "April Fool's Day is often celebrated by the playing of practical jokes."
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 23:51
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    @1010 Oops, "celebrated by" should be "celebrated with" in my previous sentence.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Dec 31, 2014 at 13:01
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    @VictoriaGorshkova I think it's a mistake to look for strict, general rules to cover all of English grammar. At its best, that leads to extremely complicated technicalities, which still only approximate the real grammar of English. If you learn one word or phrase at a time, and learn to vary them by analogy with other words and phrases that you know, then you'll understand real English grammar, the same way natives do. Simple rules are helpful for beginners, but "verbal noun vs. gerund" is entering the world of complicated technicalities that are probably more confusing than helpful.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 13:41

Some websites allow playlists to be categorized, edited, and listened to.

Using the passive, ending the sentence with a preposition, and inserting a comma after "edited". Winning at the one-armed bandit on ELL. Or:

Some websites let you categorize, edit, and listen to your playlists online.

  • I understand there are lots of variants for replacement of difficult forms and I often use many of them, but I really want to clear up all this stuff with gerunds. Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 12:26
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    The rule is simple: with _GERUND _PREPOSITION _NOUN structure you must use the correct preposition. When you have a list: _GERUND, _GERUND, and _GERUND _PREPOSITION _NOUN, you can have in the list gerunds that require different prepositions. There is no good way to handle that awkwardness, merely an "accepted" kludge. Avoid lists of gerunds that require different prepositions.
    – TimR
    Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 12:33
  • Thank you! Though, it's not only a question of lists: I'm much more confused by the information that gerunds can't take the preposition "of" after them. I've posted some links earlier in comments, people give the rules for that. I need a clear explanation about gerunds and possibility of using prepositions after them. If I can use the preposition "of" after gerunds, does it work with any gerund (except those "objects of prepositions" like "listen to" etc)? Commented Dec 29, 2014 at 13:01

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