English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am confused about the sentence below. Which structure is used: importance of + Ving or the importance of + ADJ + Noun ?

In recently years, there has been growing awareness of the importance of preserving the world's biological diversity.

share|improve this question
What are you really asking? Whether preserving is acting as an adjective here? No, it isn’t. It’s a gerund. – tchrist Aug 12 '13 at 9:55
Yes, I thought that preserving is acting as an adj. – BinhPHT Aug 12 '13 at 10:03
You might be interested in our sister-site for English learners. – tchrist Aug 12 '13 at 10:52
Thanks for your suggession. – BinhPHT Aug 12 '13 at 12:40
up vote 0 down vote accepted

The object of the preposition of here is the entire gerund phrase “preserving the world’s biological diversity”, and “the world’s biological diversity” is the direct object of preserving.

We can’t have adjectives working as prepositional objects. Since that makes preserving is a gerund, it is here functioning as a noun, although it still has verbal properties like having its own object.

There is nothing that preserving is acting as a modifier for, either. It’s the head of its own VP (verb phrase). Here’s the full parse:

(S (PP In
       (NP recent years))
   (S (NP there)
      (VP has
          (VP been
              (NP (NP growing awareness)
                  (PP of
                      (NP (NP the importance)
                          (PP of
                              (S (VP preserving
                                     (NP (NP the world 's)
                                         biological diversity))))))))))

Oh, and notice that you cannot say “in recently years”: it must be “in recent years”, because you need recent to be an adjective modifying years, and recently is an adverb.

share|improve this answer
I see, Its clearly. Thanks you for your guidance. – BinhPHT Aug 12 '13 at 10:17

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

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