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Pick out the Verbs in the following sentences:

  1. After loitering for ten minutes, the boy walked away.
  2. Since winning the prize, he has been boasting about it to everyone.
  3. Having settled himself into the armchair, he picked up the newspaper to read.

First pick out verbs then kindly explain: Are loitering and winning used as nouns in these sentences?

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3 Answers

  1. After loitering for ten minutes, the boy walked away. In this sentence, 'walked' is the verb and it is intransitive. So 'walked' doesn't have an object. 'Loitering' is a gerund being governed by the preposition 'after', i.e. 'loitering' is a prepositional object.

  2. Since winning the prize, he has been boasting about it to everyone. In this sentence, 'has been boasting' is the verb part in Present Perfect Continuous tense. 'Winning the prize' is a phrase which is joined by a co-ordinating conjunction 'since'. Also 'winning' is a gerund as phrases can't have finite verbs.

  3. Having settled himself into the armchair, he picked up the newspaper to read. In this sentence, 'picked' is the transitive verb, 'to read' is an infinitive and so a non-finite verb. 'Having settled himself into the armchair' is a phrase again. And 'having settled' can be treated as an idiomatic mixture of a gerund(having) and a past participle(settled).

P.S.- A gerund and a participle are both non-finite verbs.

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If you follow the rule that an independent statement has to have a verb, you cannot consider "loitering" or "winning" to be verbs. They are both nouns that describe an activity in a way that depends on the main clause for meaning.

Consider an alternative, "after he loitered for ten minutes, the boy walked away." This structure inserts a dependency by using "after" to arrange the two acts. Remove "after" and you have two independent statements. Neither "after loitering for ten minutes" nor "loitering for ten minutes" is an independent statement. "Walked" is therefore the only verb in sentence one.

Applying the same rule to sentence two, "has been boasting" is the only verb.

Sentence three is a great point for argumentation, depending on how you like to diagram the structure. You could argue that "having settled" is an idiomatic version of the past perfect tense with a progressive mutation, in which case it is a verb. Or you could argue that it is an idiomatic gerund with a progressive mutation, in which case this sentence is the same type as the first two. I favor the latter.

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  1. Loitering, walked
  2. winning, (has been) boasting
  3. settled (into), picked (up), to read

Loitering and winning are not being used as nouns. They are the verbs of dependent clauses. Their subjeect is the same as the subject of the main clause.

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You could say that they are, in a way: they are gerunds, used as nouns as prepositional objects to after and since. At least that is one of the more convincing models one might use to analyse these sentences. // Note that has, been, having, and read are also verbs. –  Cerberus Apr 14 '11 at 15:03
    
I'd consider revising as follows - 3. settled (in), picked (up). Both are idioms. –  The Raven Apr 14 '11 at 15:40
    
@The Raven: Those aren't idioms, they are just phrasal verbs. –  Kosmonaut Apr 14 '11 at 16:17
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