To my knowledge, when native speakers are using gerunds as a noun, they would prefer words that end with "-ment" rather than those that end with "ing." Is it just a personal preference, or a grammatical phenomenon?

Specifically, can the suffix "-ing" add some subtle meanings to a word in English?

There are two different ways to change a verb into a noun. The first way is to suffix "-ment", while the second way is to suffix "-ing" and make it a gerund. As those two ways are both grammatically correct, what are the differences between the meanings of the words yielded by these two approaches?

  • Compare "bling" and "blment". I've never heard anyone use the word "blment". Or strment. Or the famous US Sment Sment prison.
    – gnasher729
    Nov 28 '15 at 10:52
  • Maybe, as you mentioned, it's improper to say native speakers prefer words in -ing form. But, to clarify, I meant I don't understand what are the differences between words that in -ing form and in -ment form. According to my experience, it's correct to use words in ing form in some cases but is wrong in others. Nov 28 '15 at 10:58
  • 2
    @Rathony I'm asking for a rule of thumb, if any. Nov 28 '15 at 11:03
  • 1
    I don't think this should be closed as opinion-based. I think we could say something about the difference between the gerund and nouns ending in -ment, even if the answer is "it's a matter of personal preference."
    – ColleenV
    Nov 28 '15 at 13:37
  • 1
    @yummysushi Please post a couple examples you would like the willing and eager answerers to comment on. I can not think of any examples which fit your description of "-ing" or "-ment" being interchangeable. For example: "It is exciting", not "it is excitement", and usage between "-ing" and "-ment" tends to be mutually exclusive depending on context (a la @Ranthony)...
    – Peter
    Nov 28 '15 at 14:39

This may just be my brain having a short holiday, but having come up short on gerunds that end in "-ment" (see what I did there?) I suspect that it is a grammatical phenomewnon.

The Cambridge English dictionary has gerund as

"a word ​ending in "-ing" that is made from a ​verb and used like a ​noun."

So it seems they agree with me.

Reading the comments, I think I see the issue. Improvement is a noun with the same etymological root as "to improve". But crucially, it is a noun. It is not a gerund.

A gerund is a verb participle acting as a noun. It is not, however, actually a noun.

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.