This is a sentence from a very famous book on learning English called "Headway".

"But after making hundreds of millions of dollars opening duty-free shops at airports in the 1960s,Feeney's later return to a simple life was all his own choice."

I'd like to know the role of "Opening" in the sentence above.

Is it a Gerund or is it a Present participle? What are the possible missing words in the sentence? I mean the ones which are removed before opening.

Thanks in advance.

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"opening" is definitely the present participle of "open".

Just a note about the gerund in English:

Traditional grammar made a distinction within -ing forms between present participles and gerunds, a distinction that is not observed in such modern, linguistically informed grammars as A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language and The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language.

The distinction between gerund and present participles is not recognised in modern reference grammars, since many uses are ambiguous.
Distinction from other uses of the -ing form

Having shown that the term "gerund" in English is not at all uncontroversial in its use, I'll give my opinion of different ways it can be identified.

1) Elision of preposition "by" before the verb phrase "opening duty-free shops"

(often with verbal noun) Indicating the means of achieving something.

2) Seeing "opening duty-free shops" as an adverbial phrase or clause which modifies "making hundreds of millions of dollars".

3) Opening duty-free shops is a gerund clause which is adverbial.

Roles of "gerund" clauses in a sentence:
Adverbial: He walks the streets eating cakes.
Roles of "gerund" clauses in a sentence

I'm not sure exactly what it is, but I can see it being identified in different ways.

  • Thanks for your explanation. There is still one ambiguous case in the text above. I need to know what noun or pronoun the present participle "opening" is qualifying. Thanks. – Amin Aug 26 '18 at 6:14
  • @Amin If by "qualifying" you mean "modifying", I'm afraid I'm only familiar with that term when talking about adverbs, adjectives or nouns. "opening" here is a verb and "duty-free shops" is a direct object of "opening". The 'thing' being opened are duty-free shops. "opening duty-free shops" is a verb phrase, it's doing something, and it's an explanation about how the millions of dollars were made. Because it's explaining the way something was done it is adverbial. "By" can be left out, and is left out in this example. The reason why it's optional in this particular case I'm unsure of. – Zebrafish Aug 26 '18 at 8:16

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