Q1 : Nothing would prevent him speaking out against injustice.

I guess that "speaking out against injustice" is a gerund phrase as an object complement. Am right?

Q2: Last night I saw him riding his bike on the street, when I was walking to home.

I guess that "riding his bike on the street" is a participle phrase as an adjective. Am I right?

  • I think "Prevent sb from sth" is more natural to me !
    – Cardinal
    Aug 18, 2015 at 14:37
  • Thank u so much! But I'd known it. I just wondered what this verbal phrase can be at this situation. And that example sentence is form British English.
    – Blod Mary
    Aug 18, 2015 at 14:46
  • riding his bike on the street = while he was riding right?
    – Blod Mary
    Aug 18, 2015 at 14:48
  • Actually since gerund is most often used as a noun, shouldn't Q1 be "Nothing would prevent his speaking out against injustice"? Otherwise, if "him" is an object for "prevent", then "speaking" is also an object, but it needs a preposition, as @Cardinal suggests. Aug 18, 2015 at 15:38
  • @VictorBazarov Yes, Gerund is a noun and it take the roles of Nouns, however, your possessive form didn't come to my mind!
    – Cardinal
    Aug 18, 2015 at 15:48

2 Answers 2


Last night I saw him riding his bike on the street, when I was walking to home.

You could just say Last night I saw him and that sentence would still make sense. So riding his bike on the street is modifying him. Since adjectives modify nouns (or verbals), that means it's a participle.

Nothing would prevent him speaking out against injustice.

You can't say Nothing would prevent him without the sentence feeling unfinished (unless a previous context fills in the blank). The sentence needs an object, and nouns answer for objects. Caveat: subject complements but the verb prevent doesn't work like that.

So speaking out against injustice functions independently - i.e. it doesn't grammatically modify anything, so it'd have to be a noun and thus a gerund.

  • You can't say when I was walking to home. Omit "to" the word "home"is not followed by preposition "to".it is often used as an adverb. Feb 7, 2016 at 14:55
  • @Lawrence Your first quoted sentence would have been better if you placed that when-clause at the beginning of the sentence. Another modification that would make it better is to drop to before home, but I don't think it's mandatory. Nor do I think using it the way you did would make the sentence incorrect. But the most common practice is to drop to in such cases. Jul 6, 2016 at 14:24
  • Another thing is riding his bike is never an adjective. It modifies a noun, but that doesn't mean it has to be an adjective. In this sentence - "Look at that man over there in red shirt, who is the retired army officer." - the relative clause also modifies a noun, but we are not calling it an adjective. Jul 6, 2016 at 14:27
  • 1
    Adjectives modify verbs - > this seems too strange, because I have never known such things; can you please cite some example sentences where an adjective does modify a verb? Jul 6, 2016 at 14:35
  • I think I meant verbals. Corrected.
    – LawrenceC
    Jul 6, 2016 at 14:45

The verb construction "to prevent sb from sth/doing sth" is often shortened to "to prevent sb doing sth". Here you have a gerund. After a preposition you always have a gerund.

In sentence 2 (I saw him riding his bike ...) riding is traditionally seen as a participle. But you could interpret it as a gerund as well (I saw him + he was in the act of riding his bike). In such cases you might call it gp (gerund or participle).

  • Not really. In the sentence "I saw him (riding his bike)", the part in the parenthesis does not act as a noun, so there's no gerund in there. It's a participle, because it acts as an adjective, describing the state of the object, "him", in which you sam him. If you want a gerund, here's an example of it: "(Reading books) is my favourite activity."
    – SasQ
    Mar 28, 2019 at 7:19

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .