I have a doubt with the word "using" in the follow sentence

With the American job market surging to life, President Obama plans to use his State of the Union address on Tuesday night to effectively declare victory over the economic hard times that dominated his first six years in office and advocate using the nation’s healthier finances to tackle long-deferred issues like education and income inequality.

Which is the "function" of that word on the sentence. Is it a noun or verb?

  • 2
    Please supply the complete sentence of your example, for context. Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 13:17
  • @CopperKettle I was going to up vote your answer, but your answer post is "deleted". Perhaps you could provide more material for your answer, to show why you think "using" here is a verb and not a noun. :)
    – F.E.
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 20:12
  • 1
    @F.E. - thanks for the comment, maybe I will some time later! Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 21:00
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    @CopperKettle Be careful of what you read out there in the wild, for much of that info such as in Wikipedia is garbage. Remember that there are verb forms, which are verbs, and there are noun forms, which are nouns. Hopefully that will be enough to steer you past the shoals of nonsense out there on gerunds. :)
    – F.E.
    Commented Jan 20, 2015 at 21:06

2 Answers 2


Using is both a noun AND a verb, in different respects.

  • It acts as a verb in the subordinate clause. Here it bears the same sense as a finite verbform of USE, and it ‘licenses’ (permits) the same complements which a finite verbform would license:—a Subject, a Direct Object, and an (optional) infinitival Predicative Complement designating the goal of the action. (In this particular case, the Subject is not specified; it is inferred to be ‘we’, the President and his hearers, ‘the nation’.) It is not, however, marked with tense; in effect it ‘borrows’ its tense from the main clause: a non-past form with future reference.

  • It acts as a noun in the superordinate main clause: specifically, it acts as the Direct Object of the main-clause verb advocate. (At least that is the ‘traditional’ parsing; some more contemporary grammars say that it acts as the head of a nonfinite clause and that it is the clause which acts as Direct Object of advocate.)

This ‘double use’ as a verb at one syntactic level and a noun at another is precisely what the term gerund signifies. Similarly, when an -ing form acts as both a verb and an adjective, it is called a participle.


It's a verb in this sentence. The nation's healthier finances should be used.

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