Could anyone explain when to use a noun or a gerund?

Are these sentences correct? What is the difference between usage of gerund and noun there?

  1. I worked on the improvement of the article.
  2. I worked on the article improving.
  3. I worked on the improving of the article.

  1. The investment idea was published.
  2. Investing idea was published.

A gerund is a verbal word or phrase which functions as a noun or noun phrase.

The verb improve can be used strictly as a verb, as in the following sentence:

I improve my performance with each successive attempt.

It can also be used as a gerund and function as a noun. For example,

Improving is my goal with each and every performance.

Here, improving is the subject of the sentence.

Group One

Of your first group of three sentences, each one has its minor flaws:

"I worked on the improvement of the article." Unless someone asked the question of, say, a group of people, "Who worked on the improvement of the article? Show of hands," you could probably drop the word the. A better version would then be "I worked on improving the article."


"I worked on the article improving." You could make this sentence correct by adding a comma and some words after the word improving. For example, "I worked on the article, improving its style and point of view." Otherwise, you'd need to reword the sentence for better clarity. Some examples:

  • I worked on the article's improvement.

  • Working on improving the article was my pleasure.

  • Improving the article was my work [or contribution, or task, or responsibility, and so on].

  • My work on improving the article was exhausting.


"I worked on the improving of the article." You could say

  • "I worked on improving the article" [no the is needed, and the gerund becomes part of a prepositional phrase], or

  • " I worked on the improvement of the article." Here the word the is needed.

Group Two

As for your second group of sentences, the first one is fine, but the second one,

"Investing idea was published,"

is not, since the words investing idea need an identifier/mofifier such as the, an, his, her, their, my professor's, my uncle's, my sister's, and so on.

By the way, you would not detract from the sentence's meaning by substituting the word investment for investing, as in

My investment idea was published. Investment here functions as a modifier of the word idea.

The same could be said for the following variation:

My ideas on investing were published. Investing functions here as the (noun) object of the preposition on.

  • 1
    Often, there is more of an emphasis on the process involved when an ing-form is used rather than a different related noun, and more of an emphasis on the event / object / achievement etc itself when the non-ing-form is used (correspondingly, a plural is usually available). I like his singing / song. // His crying always upsets me / His cry alerted me. // The improving of the article is taking up a disproportionate amount of our time. / The improvement in the article is clear. May 28 '19 at 16:36
  • @EdwinAshworth: Thanks for your insights! Don May 28 '19 at 17:00

For your first three examples, #1 and #3 have nouns "improvement" and "improving", which are not gerunds, because they have the article "the". Gerunds cannot have articles, because they are verbs, and verbs do not take articles.

Your example #2 is not grammatical, but if "the article" is moved to the end, it is okay, and here, "I worked on improving the article", "improving" is a gerund.


Improvement to the roof would raise the value of your house - improvement (common noun, also a deverbal noun) implies an instance of the action of the verb "to improve".

Improving would raise the value of your house. Improving (gerund) implies the action of the verb "to improve". Gerunds are non-finite and uncountable.

The improving of the roof would raise the value of your house. Improving (verbal noun), implies both the instance of the action and the action of the verb "to improve" but it is not non-finite and can be countable.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verbal_noun

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