I've learned so far that a Gerund can be used in 6 cases: Subject, Object, Subject complement, Object complement, Object of preposition and Object of possessive.

Participles are used as adjectives, such as; falling monkey, burning building, etc. A participle must modify something in the sentence.

In this sentence:

My phone will ring displaying your name

can someone please explain whether displaying is a gerund or a participle? I can neither put it in any of the 6 gerund categories nor can I get how it is modifying anything in the sentence.

  • This must have been covered here before (and note that what you have learned is only one approach. CGEL lumps ing-forms, and Quirk gives an umpteen point gradience between nounal and verbal, further separating adjectival and prepositional usages.) Learn English ... British Council.org gives a useful treatment. Jun 22, 2016 at 16:31
  • I haven't found any question from where I could find my answer. Can you please provide the link? And I know this is only one approach and using this I can't find the answer. That's why I asked this question what the answer is and why. Jun 22, 2016 at 16:50
  • My personal answer is that 'gerund' is ill-defined, being defined differently by different schools of thought. The example you give is certainly nearer the verbal end of the noun-verb cline, being paraphrasable by 'My phone will ring; it will display your name', and I know of few who would call this an example of a 'gerund'. Look up 'gerund participle' here, to see different stances. Jun 22, 2016 at 17:07
  • Can you please make it simple while explaining? Since I'm not a native speaker, I'm having hard time understanding you. I've understood from what you said that it's neither gerund nor participle which making things more complicated for me since I thought it is either one of these two. You said this is "nearer the verbal end of the noun-verb cline". can you please explain it a little more. Can you please give me more links to help me understand? Jun 22, 2016 at 17:20
  • Zakaria, ELU is not a site intended for people not fluent in English (there are many that are, such as the sister site, ELL). // But you seem to be assuming that there is an agreed treatment of the gerund ... participle debate; this is not the case. CGEL fans would perhaps claim that there is (but it would in any case not be the same as what you have been taught). Jun 22, 2016 at 18:46

1 Answer 1


It is only your phone that can display a name, and so it is clearly your phone that this participial phrase is modifying. However, when a participial phrase is separated from the word it modifies, it requires a comma:

My phone will ring, displaying your name.

Still, this sentence seems problematic to me because, even as it modifies the noun, it bears no relation to what the main clause is saying about the phone. For example, it makes sense to say that

My phone will light up, displaying your name

because the lighting up of a phone is what allows a phone to display a name.


My phone will ring, sounding a lovely Mozart melody

makes sense because the ring and the melody are clearly related.

Personally, I would phrase your sentence in this way:

My phone will ring and display your number.


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