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 '15 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 '15 at 14:46
  • riding his bike on the street = while he was riding right? – Blod Mary Aug 18 '15 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. – Victor Bazarov Aug 18 '15 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 '15 at 15:48

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.

| improve this answer | |
  • 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. – I don't know who I am. Feb 7 '16 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. – Man_From_India Jul 6 '16 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. – Man_From_India Jul 6 '16 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? – Man_From_India Jul 6 '16 at 14:35
  • I think I meant verbals. Corrected. – LawrenceC Jul 6 '16 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).

| improve this answer | |
  • 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 '19 at 7:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.