I'm not sure how to describe the use of the bolded words in the following cases:

Pete is happy singing a song

Anna talked screaming

Mike entered the room screaming and laughing

Is it acting as an adverb? Or has a preposition been elided?

Pete is happy while singing a song

Anna talked while screaming

Mike entered the room while screaming and laughing

  • 2
    A present participle is only a gerund when it's used where a noun could go. Mar 6, 2014 at 16:23
  • 1
    This is Off Topic General Reference that seems to be predicated on a complete misunderstanding of what "gerund" means (as opposed to a "progressive/continuous" verb form). Mar 6, 2014 at 16:27
  • 2
    @FumbleFingers, the question still stands, can an ~ing form act as an adverb?
    – Nico
    Mar 6, 2014 at 16:28
  • 4
    I feel like this would all be cleared up nicely if someone would just answer the damn question: in the sentence "Pete is happy singing a song," what part of speech is "singing"?
    – phenry
    Mar 6, 2014 at 16:36
  • 2
    There, I edited the question. It no longer makes any mention of either gerunds or adverbs. Hopefully now the questioner can get an answer, instead of just grief.
    – phenry
    Mar 6, 2014 at 16:48

1 Answer 1


In 'Pete is happy while singing a song', I believe 'singing' to be part of an adjectival phrase, modifying the proper noun Peter. The same is true of 'Anna talked while screaming'.

In 'Pete is happy singing a song', 'singing a song' is an adjectival phrase modifying 'Pete'.

'They entered the room screaming'. Who was screaming? Not 'the room', not the 'entering', but it was 'they' who were screaming. So 'screaming' is modifying 'they'.

Had it been 'They entered the room quickly', then 'quickly' would have been an adverb, because it describes how they 'entered'.

Another way of putting it would be 'Whilst screaming, they entered the room'.


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