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The English gerund is a noun which is derived from a verb by the addition of the suffix -ing:

Talking takes up too much oxygen.

Running is great exercise.

I love cooking.

The English gerund is identical in form to the present participle. The distinction is solely one of usage: the present participle is what is used in the progressive aspect (I am running) and as an adjective (the running total), while the gerund refers to using the -ing form as a noun (running is great exercise).

In the OED, gerunds are called verbal nouns.

Of the following three examples, only the second is a gerund, because they are shoes for running. The other two are participles.

  1. I am running scared.
  2. I have running shoes.
  3. I hear running water.
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