The National Archives
Search our website
  • Search our website
  • Search our records

Lesson 11: Gerunds and Gerundives - part 1 | 1 2

Gerund

A gerund is what is called a verbal noun. This means that it occupies a middle ground between a verbView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window and a nounView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window and shows characteristics of both. It is activeView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window in meaning and only exists in the singular form.

Gerund: Verbal noun

Verb properties Noun properties

A gerund is formed from a verb

A gerund can be described using an adverbView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window

A gerund can govern a caseView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window

A gerund declines like a neuter singular noun

The gerund is formed by removing the '-s' from the present participleView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window, adding '-d', and then the relevant ending and is translated in English by '-ing'

Verb Present participle (adjective) Gerund (noun)
Latin English Latin English Latin English
vocare (1) to call vocans calling vocandum calling
habere (2) to have habens having habendum having
mittere (3) to send mittens sending mittendum sending
audier (4) to hear audiens hearing audiendum hearing

Deponent verbsView the definition of this term - this link opens in a new window also have gerunds that are formed in a similar way.

For example:

Verb Present participle Gerund
Latin English Latin English Latin English
ingredior (3) to enter ingrediens entering ingrediendum entering

When you decline a gerund, it will look like a neuter singular noun in Group 2 across all the cases, except for the nominative, where it will rarely appear.

  Conjugation 1 Conjugation 2 Conjugation 3 Conjugation 4
Nominative
Accusative vocandum habendum mittendum audiendum
Genitive vocandi habendi mitendi audiendi
Dative vocando habendo mittendo audiendo
Ablative vocando habendo mittendo audiendo

In each case the gerund is translated slightly differently and is often preceded by a particular preposition.

  Preposition Gerund English
Nominative
Accusative ad vocandum with a view to calling, towards calling
Genitive causa vocandi of calling, for the sake of calling
Dative vocando to/for calling
Ablative ab, de, ex, in, pro vocando about/by/from/in/concerning calling

Handy hint

You will notice examples of Latin gerunds still in use in modern English today.

For example:

Modus vivendi - a way/style of living
Modus operandi - a way/style of working

Checklist

Are you confident with:

  • The meaning of a gerund?
  • The form of a gerund?
Go to part 2
Try again