1

Seeing the tiger, the man ran away.

I'd like to know whether 'seeing' is gerund or participle? may be explained.

  • In 'Seeing the tiger, the man ran away' 'seeing the tiger' describes an event happening. This is a verbal usage; the -ing form is the participle. In 'Seeing the tiger proved impossible because of the dense jungle', 'seeing the tiger' is behaving far more like a noun, both in role ('observation of the tiger proved impossible') and grammatical function (seeing the tiger is the subject). – Edwin Ashworth Jun 16 '15 at 19:14
2

It is a participle. A participle functions (externally) like an adjective; the word seeing describes and modifies the man in your example, so it is a participle.

Separating the participle from the noun it modifies by a comma, as in your example, is called apposition.

A gerund functions like a noun; if it were a gerund, then it would be hanging in the air in your example. You can test this by replacing it with a somewhat similar noun:

The action of seeing the tiger, the man ran away.

This doesn't work. (And don't add prepositions before the gerund to make it work: that's cheating!)

Tiger-aware, the man ran away.

As you see, it works if you replace it with an adjective, so it is a participle.

0

This participle construction is a shortening for a clause with when/as.

1 - When/as he saw the tiger, the man ran away.

2 - when seeing the tiger, ...

3 - Seeing the tiger, ...

Temporal or causal clauses can be shortened by using participle constructions. Occasionally other kinds of clauses, too.

  • Upon seeing the tiger: this is a gerundial construction, but it can just as easily be converted into a conjunctive construction such as your when seeing the tiger. I don't think this kind of conversion proves much? – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Jun 16 '15 at 4:16
  • @Cerberus - Do you really think "The seeing of the tiger + the man ran away" go together? – rogermue Jun 16 '15 at 4:27
  • By adding "upon" you change the first part to a gerund construction. But generally such a sentence part is seen as an adverbial clause shortened by means of a participle construction. This is frequent with adverbial clauses of time (when/as/while), of manner/circumstance and of cause. Sometimes you even find conjunctions with participle constructions. – rogermue Jun 16 '15 at 5:46
  • With all due respect, but I think you missed my point. You converted a participial construction into a when seeing construction. I converted a gerundial construction into exactly the same. So you can convert either construction into a when seeing construction, which means that the conversion cannot be used to prove anything. Agreed? (What is more, the participial construction isn't really a shortening of anything: it's just a different construction. But I don't think you meant that "shortening" literally.) – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Jun 16 '15 at 12:01

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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