When Is a Verb with an “–ing” Ending, Not a Verb?
A question arose in the Springs Writers fiction critique group regarding whether “-ing” on the end of a verb is active or passive. Does an “-ing” automatically make the verb passive? It depends upon whether the verb with an –ing is a verb, adjective or noun, plus how it’s used in the sentence.
There are six kinds of –ing words that appear to be an –ing verb.
1. Verb: Makes definite tenses.
2. Pure participle (adjective): Expresses action. Used as an adjective. A participle is a verb form used as an adjective.
3. Participial adjective: Expresses action, modifying nouns or pronouns.
4. Pure adjective: Has lost all verbal force. Examples: Pure participial adjectives: "The healing power of the God." "The shattering volume of rock music."
5. Verbal nouns: Names an action or state.
6. Gerunds (noun): Expresses action. Used as a noun.
Verbals (plain verb + ing) Function as Another Part of Speech
Verbs ending in –ing can be “verbal’s.” So what’s a verbal? Verbs functioning as another part of speech. There are three kinds of verbal’s:
1. Participle (adjective): A participle is a verbal that is used as an adjective and most often ends in - ing or -ed. It expresses action or a state of being modifying nouns or pronouns. There are two types of participles: present participles and past participles. Present participles consists of a plain verb ending in -ing. A past participle consists of a plain verb ending in -ed, -en, -d, -t, or -n, as in the words asked, eaten, saved, dealt, and seen.
2. Infinitive (noun): An infinitive is a verbal consisting of the word to plus a verb (in its simplest "stem" form) and functioning as a noun, adjective, or adverb. An infinitive expresses action or a state of being. However, the infinitive may function as a subject, direct object, subject complement, adjective, or adverb in a sentence.
3. Gerunds (noun): A gerund is a verbal that ends in -ing and functions as a noun. It expresses action or a state of being. However, since a gerund functions as a noun, it occupies some positions in a sentence that a noun ordinarily would, for example: subject, direct object, subject complement, and object of preposition. Gerunds are active voice. The only time a gerund is passive is when it is used after verbs need, require and want. Examples: I have three shirts that need washing. (need to be washed) This letter requires signing. (needs to be signed) The house wants repainting. (needs to be repainted)
A gerund can be:
Subjects: Smoking costs a lot of money. Traveling might satisfy your desire for new experiences. Running provides good exercise.
Direct objects: Sylvia hates biting her fingernails. Jack does not appreciate my singing. The boys enjoy running.
Indirect objects: I resent their hitting golf balls into my back yard.
Objects of prepositions: The police arrested Todd for speeding. Miss Scott reprimanded Sally for running in the hall.
Predicate nominatives: The best exercise is running. A predicate nominative or predicate noun completes a linking verb and renames the subject. It is a complement or completer because it completes the verb. Predicate nominatives complete only linking verbs, which writers try to eliminate: is, am, are, was, were, be, being, and been; the sense verbs look, taste, smell, feel, and sound; and verbs like become, seem, appear, grow, continue, stay, and turn.)