Please clarify if what I have mentioned below is correct.

  1. I like painting. - Gerund?

  2. I like painting pictures. - Present participle?

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    This has been covered here before, N. Balasubramanian (and Hello, by the way). It depends on how you (/ your tutor) use/s the terms. I believe that Quirk et al argue that the second example here is nearer the verb end of the noun ...... verb continuum for ing-forms than the first is. I'd agree. But throw in examples like 'I like him painting pictures'; 'I like his painting pictures' and 'His slowly painting the sea view was becoming tedious' and you've got real problems (often because someone jumps in with 'But that's obviously the ___ usage). /// Ah: someone has already jumped in. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 21 '15 at 11:33
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    @EdwinAshworth It kinds can't be a noun in the second example - it has a direct object there, something nouns don't ever have. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Jul 21 '15 at 12:15
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    @Araucaria A point I've made in a comment below. Essentially, Quirk's gradience approach here is the only one that makes any sense to me. At one [N] end, deverbal nouns (His painting was sold for $400 000). At the other [V], participles (He was painting in the attic). In between, in-betweens (of various flavours). – Edwin Ashworth Jul 21 '15 at 12:20
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    I don't see any gradience going on here, at all. An -ing form is either a verb (gerund) or a noun, not partly one and partly the other. There is no evidence I know of for intermediates. For instance, if the -ing form has a direct object (no preposition), it can't have any nominal properties -- no article, no plural, no modifying adjective. If it has any nominal property, it can't have any verbal properties -- no direct object, no modifying adverb. If you don't think that's right, show me a counterexample. – Greg Lee Jul 21 '15 at 21:51

This subject has been already discussed.

In order to better understand the difference, let's look at each of their definitions separately.
Gerund: the -ing form of a verb when functioning as a noun, as "writing" in "Writing is easy."

Present participle: a participle form, having the suffix -ing, denoting repetition or duration of an activity or event: used as an adjective, as in "The growing weeds are nuisance to the neighbours", and in forming progressive verb forms, as in "The weeds are growing."

Your example:

I like painting (pictures) - gerund - Yes, "painting" is being used as a noun.

Here's an example of "painting" as a present participle: "The weather began to change quickly as I was painting the landscape."

| improve this answer | |
  • Is a property of nouns that they take objects 'I like painting pictures')? Shouldn't the definition more honestly be modified to 'the -ing form of a verb when functioning in some respects as a noun'? And who gets to decide the necessary respects? This grey area is exactly what Quirk et al try to analyse in ACGEL. They avoid the term 'gerund' as (1) too imprecise; (2) having conflicting definitions among even linguists. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 21 '15 at 12:14
  • @Edwin Ashworth: Would you be kind enough and care to explain how all those ongoing conflicts or debates among linguists can be of any assistance to a learner? Dictionary definitions and grammar books are the only ones available now to help at the moment. A learner cannot wait until the storm is over, I mean, until a consensus is reached. Any thoughts on that? – Sankarane Jul 21 '15 at 12:32
  • But nouns never take objects. That's a defining property of nouns. Also in your last example, painting is a present participle, not a past participle. Unfortunately the names of participles in English are not intuitive. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Jul 21 '15 at 12:33
  • That was inadvertent, naming it as past participle. Thanks. How about "Picture-painting is my favourite activity."? I see that "Painting pictures" may appear like a verb form, taking a direct object. – Sankarane Jul 21 '15 at 12:41
  • @Sankarane It depends if they are a student of linguistics or if they are trying to speak the language. But here's how it can be useful for a learner: If we use an article with the --ing form, then because it's therefore a noun it must be modified by an adjective not an adverb. Also it won't be able to take a direct object and will need a preposition phrase to indicate the recipient of the action, and possibly the agent too: "The unwarranted sinking of the British passenger steamer Falaba by a German submarine on March 28 ..." – Araucaria - Not here any more. Jul 21 '15 at 12:43

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