"After failing the vocab test, they drowned themselves in jolly ranchers"

Part 1 of Question

is "after failing the vocab test" a gerund phrase?

If it is why? how do you identify whether it is a gerund phrase? Because someone told me it was but I dont think it acts as a noun

Part 2 of question

is "failing the vocab test" a prepositional phrase?

Question 2



" While preparing for the speech, Joe couldn’t help but worry about his entrance. "

is "While preparing for the speech" a gerund phrase?

Because I know that gerund has to be a verb acting as a noun.

But If we have the word "while" before something, doesnt the next string of words have to be a verb?

Question 3


Hoping for a miracle, the doctors continued the surgery.

What does the particpial phrase "Hoping for a miracle" modify?

closed as too broad by user140086, Helmar, NVZ, jimm101, tchrist Jan 7 '17 at 3:47

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 2
    Shouldn't this be broken up into 3 separate questions? – miltonaut Jan 6 '17 at 8:09

It may help to recognize what "acts like" means. A gerund is a verb form and it acts like a verb in that it has syntactic relationships that characterize verbs. For instance, a gerund can take an object:

failing the vocab test

But a gerund also acts like a noun in that it can perform the functions in a sentence that nouns perform. For instance, a gerund can itself be an object of a preposition:

after failing the vocab test

Is this any different from

after their failure at the vocab test

Note that a prepositional phrase is

Preposition + Object

That should take care of question the first, both parts. Question the second:

Consider the sentence

While angry, I turn red.

The "string of words" (of length 1) after while is not a verb.

Question the third. In

Hoping for a miracle, the doctors continued the surgery.

the introductory participial phrase (or some would say clause) is a nominative absolute. So-called nominative because it's associated with the subject of the following main clause. (Here it's the doctors who are hoping.) And so-called absolute because it's not closely tied to the syntax of the main clause. We can say that the phrase modifies the subject doctors as it describes them, or we can say that it modifies the verb continued as it tells us the manner in which they proceeded to operate. Or both.

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