"I have started swimming."

This could mean I have just started moving my arms. Or it could mean that I have enrolled in swimming classes. To my mind one interpretation is a present participle and the other is a gerund. Of course, if I said "I have been swimming" there would be no ambiguity.

"I have started swimming circuits." Is there still ambiguity here? Can 'swimming' be seen as a gerund with 'circuits' as its object?

And what kind of verbal form is 'I have stopped/started/continued running" etc? Is it a form of the progressive, or is the 'ing' form automatically a gerund here? "I have stopped doing that"--is 'doing' a gerund, or are there many forms of the progressive possible that I've never seen explicitly discussed?

Oh, and one more. Sometimes there is more than one meaning that can be derived from the 'ing' form. 'My knitting' could mean 'my action of knitting' or it could mean 'the bundle of linked thread that I have created by performing this action'. Are both meanings gerunds or is the second meaning (which is a physical object) a full noun?

  • If you start a sentence with "I have started", any *-ing form that comes after that is probably a gerund. There are two meanings of this sentence, but I don't think this is the grammar behind them. – Peter Shor Jun 30 '16 at 14:43
  • 'I was swimming' means 'I was moving my arms. 'I continued swimming'--realistically, this means that I was moving my arms (still). But you are saying 'swimming' would be a gerund here? How is the distinction made between 'the action of swimming' viewed as purely a verb ('I am swimming') and viewed as a gerund? – Dunsanist Jun 30 '16 at 14:47
  • The difference is grammar. If a noun form is required in the grammar of the sentence, it's called a gerund. For example, if you said "my swimming is terrible," it would be a gerund because it's the subject of a sentence and it's modified by my. But it doesn't mean anything different from "I swim terribly." – Peter Shor Jun 30 '16 at 14:48
  • Are you saying the noun form is required by the verb (e.g. 'started')? What if I say "I started hating swimming"? Are there two gerunds in a row? What about "I started hating thinking swimming was helping"? – Dunsanist Jun 30 '16 at 14:53
  • Yes, you have three gerunds in a row followed by a fourth in that last sentence. – Peter Shor Jun 30 '16 at 15:06

Your Answer

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

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.