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  1. Object of Preposition

Some people consider my interest in gardening an obsession. (The gerund phrase is “gardening an obsession.”)

As I was searching around for the correct use of gerund phrase, I found this seemingly wrong information from a website called DAILYWRITINGTIPS (http://www.dailywritingtips.com/4-types-of-gerunds-and-gerund-phrases/).

It states that the phrase "gardening an obsession" is a gerund phrase working as the object of preposition. But what I think is this:

Some people consider {my interest [in (gardening)]} [an obsession].

So here, {my interest in gardening} is a noun phrase. [in gardening] is a prepositional adjective phrase modifying my interest, and (gardening) is the object of preposition. This [an obsession] is the object complement used after the object {my interest in gardening}, because of the verb consider.

Therefore, gardening, not gardening an obsession, is the object of preposition and also just a gerund. However, I'm not sure whether my conclusion is correct or not, since I am just beginning to learn those stuffs.

Also here.

  1. Direct Object

I am enjoying my gardening this year. (The direct object of the subject is “my gardening this year.”)

In this sentence, I don't know how you can conclude that "gardening" is used as a gerund. Can this "my gardening" not be a deverbal noun with no verbal characteristic and this year as an adverb phrase modifying enjoying?

The reason I posted this question is because I believed that this DAILYWRITINGTIPS website is credible, so I thought that I might be wrong.

Thank you so much in advance.

  • 2
    Yes, those are deverbal nouns, not gerunds. – tchrist Oct 20 '15 at 2:12
  • Thank you! I edited it. Also, the reason I thought it was deverbal noun is because I just had this weird feeling as I read the sentence... is there any specific reason it is only deverbal noun, not gerunds? Are those all single word gerunds deverbal nouns? – sooeithdk Oct 20 '15 at 2:16
  • It's also interesting that the gerund example is not in the gerund section but the object of preposition section. – nafg Oct 20 '15 at 2:18
  • Ah. The whole page was talking about gerunds and how they are used in the sentences. There is a link. – sooeithdk Oct 20 '15 at 2:19
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    Some could be either. The infallible tests are: if it can take an object, it's a gerund, but if it can take an article, it's a deverbal noun. But they don't work for intransitive gerunds, for instance. In a lot of cases you can't tell, and it doesn't really matter. – John Lawler Oct 20 '15 at 2:22
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Some people consider my interest in gardening an obsession.

As to the first example, I have read your analysis and you are 100% correct. That website is wrong: you're not gardening an obsession, after all.

I am enjoying my gardening this year.

As to the second example, whether or not it is a gerund depends on your definition. The traditional definition is simply "an -ing form that functions like a noun", so any -ing form that isn't a participle, basically. To those that make a distinction, it is probably a deverbal noun in this case. If you cannot add to gardening any argument that is exclusively a verbal argument, like an adverb, then it must be a deverbal noun according to the narrow definition.

You could say I am enjoying his happy gardening, which would be a nominal modifier (the adjective happy), suggesting that it is a deverbal noun. (I had to change the pronoun, because otherwise there would be some interference with the idiom I am enjoying myself.) But you could also say I am enjoying his gardening happily, which would be the traditional equivalent to the more recent and informal I am enjoying him gardening happily. Then it would be a gerund by the narrow definition. I find this less pleasing to the ear, so I would say it is probably a deverbal noun and not a gerund by the narrow definition; but I'd say happily is not impossible, so it is strictly ambiguous in that regard.

To be honest, I'm not convinced this distinction between narrow gerund and deverbal noun is terribly important, so I prefer the traditional definition and call it a gerund either way.

As to whether this year is part of the gerund phrase, and therefore modifying the gerund, or a separate argument modifying (I) am enjoying directly, that is ambiguous. You could be happy this year about your gardening, or you could be happy about your gardening that took place this year. The two meanings turn out to overlap almost 100%, so the distinction cannot really be made. Still, I would say it is most naturally analysed as modifying the main verb directly, so I would say the website is wrong about this one too.

  • Thank you! I also have a question. Some people say that in "giving of presents to each other", giving can be conceived as a gerund (although it is obviously a deverbal noun) and assert that the distinction between the deverbal noun and gerund is not that important, while others insist that the strict distinction be made. So, who is correct, or more accepted? The distinction is not that important, or the distinction should be recognized? – sooeithdk Oct 20 '15 at 2:41
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    @sooeithdk: You're asking me to rise above myself! There are two questions here. 1. Is the distinction important? 2. Should a deverbal noun be called a kind of gerund, so you have two kinds of gerunds: more noun-like gerunds and more verb-like gerunds (broad definition)? Or should the noun-like gerund not be called a gerund (narrow)? As to question 2, I believe the broad definition is the traditional one, also used in other fields, like other languages, but the narrow definition seems to be more popular at the moment among Anglo-Saxon linguists. – Cerberus Oct 20 '15 at 2:49
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    The answer to question 1 depends on the situation. Lawler agrees with me in his comment above that the distinction is not very important in this example, and he no doubt favours the narrow definition, unlike myself. In some other situation he and I will probably agree that the distinction is meaningful; but then we would simply use different terms: he deverbal noun versus gerund, I nominal gerund versus verbal gerund, or something like that. As to how important the distinction is in general, I cannot advise you. – Cerberus Oct 20 '15 at 2:52
  • @sooeithdk: Yay! – Cerberus Oct 20 '15 at 2:53

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