I saw countless youtube videos and grammar books but -ing is too hard.

losing weight

gaining weight

are "losing" and "gaining" gerund or adjective?

1 Answer 1


In theory, both. Gerunds are verbal forms that function as nouns: in this sense, gaining weight has roughly the same meaning as process where one gains weight, with weight being the object of the verb.

However, they could also be adjectives, modifying weight: the weight that is gaining. This doesn't make sense for this particular choice of words (which is why I start my answer with "in theory"); but if we take another example:

  • Cheating friends is the worst: gerund (the activity where one cheats one's friends is the worst)
  • Cheating friends are the worst: adjective (friends who cheat are the worst)
  • Gerunds are not nouns. Gerunds are verbs—always. Gerund phrases function as nouns. Gerunds do not. A gerund phrase is a verb phrase that is functioning as a noun. The gerund itself cannot. For example “always cheating your friends” has only one noun: friends, because it is the object the verb cheating. It takes an adverb because it is a verb; if it were a noun, it could not take an adverb.
    – tchrist
    Nov 11, 2016 at 5:01
  • @tchrist: I never said gerunds are nouns. Good point, gerund phrases function as noun phrases, not gerunds themselves as nouns; but a gerund itself can be a gerund phrase ("running is fun"). But most dictionaries I checked carry the simplified definition I quoted.
    – Amadan
    Nov 11, 2016 at 5:09
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    I (as I already said) agree with you. But I don't have access to OED; meanwhile, M-W: an English noun formed from a verb by adding -ing; Cambridge Dictionary: a word ending in "-ing" that is made from a verb and used like a noun; Oxford Living Dictionaries: A verb form which functions as a noun, in Latin ending in -ndum (declinable), in English ending in -ing (e.g. asking in do you mind my asking you?); even your own quote says "capable of being construed as a n.". None of them mention noun phrase.
    – Amadan
    Nov 11, 2016 at 5:40
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    That said, I think a gerund form can act as a noun or as a verb, but not both: keeping cooking as head, I like delicious cooking is okay, I like cooking meat as well, but not *I like delicious cooking meat (needs either delicious cooking of meat or cooking meat deliciously).
    – Amadan
    Nov 11, 2016 at 5:46
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    Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/154886/…
    – pyobum
    Nov 11, 2016 at 6:12

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