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In the following sentence,

I did quite well in the examination, without having to burn the midnight oil.

What is "having" -- a gerund, a participle, or just a present continuous verb?

I tried Wren & Martin, but without luck.

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    It's a gerund-participle verb heading the non-finite clause "having to burn the midnight oil". Trad grammar would call it a gerund since the clause functions as complement of the preposition "without". – BillJ Apr 6 '18 at 8:52
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    The term 'gerund-participle verb' , used in ACGEL, works well for ing-forms round about the middle of the noun-verb continuum. Quirk et al have a more 'splitter' (than 'lumper') approach than this, trying to identify regions along the continuum. Treatments and terminologies differ (with 'gerund' a woefully variously-defined term). – Edwin Ashworth Apr 6 '18 at 9:49
  • @EdwinAshworth Do you have a link to the term 'noun-verb continuum', please ? – Nigel J Apr 6 '18 at 12:30
  • @Nigel J There's a reference to and useful extract from an overview of approaches given by Aarts and Haegeman here. Elsewhere, Broschart uses the actual term. But this, from ... – Edwin Ashworth Apr 6 '18 at 13:54
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    Of no use at all to the OP and totally irrelevant. In any case Aarts is discussing something slightly different. He does not assert that the "having" in the OP's example could be a noun, and rightly so, since it clearly is not. – BillJ Apr 6 '18 at 18:00
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I did quite well in the examination, without having to burn the midnight oil.

"Having" is a gerund-participle verb heading the non-finite clause "having to burn the midnight oil".

Traditional grammar would call it a gerund since the clause functions as complement of the preposition "without", where nouns typically occur.

Modern grammar does not usually distinguish the two forms, 'gerund' and 'present participle', but simply lumps them together calling them 'gerund-participles'.

  • I rather imagine that the reason the OP was thinking that having “must” be a noun is because of how the entire non-finite clause acts as the object of the preposition without. When they do only word-for-word part-of-speech assignments without regard to higher level syntactic constituents, they get caught in the paradox of needing to pretend something is a noun when it is not. That a preposition’s NP complement might have a head that’s a verb just doesn’t fit into their model of understanding. – tchrist Apr 7 '18 at 15:31
  • Yes, I'd go along with that. – BillJ Apr 7 '18 at 15:43

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