Is asking a participle or gerund in the sentence "Asking questions is easier than answering them. "

  • 2
    It doesn't matter. The important thing is that it is a verb.
    – BillJ
    Commented Apr 21, 2019 at 7:51
  • 1
    Right. Outside discussions of verb forms, "participle" is a very loose term that is applied to many distinct constructions. And you can tell these -ing forms are verbs because they have direct objects. Commented Apr 21, 2019 at 21:24
  • @John Lawler On that analysis, does it convert to a noun in the related form 'The asking of questions is ...'? Commented May 21, 2019 at 12:21
  • clearly a gerund. could those objecting to the terminology please provide some reference to reasons.
    – Toothrot
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 12:38

1 Answer 1


Simplify the statement to

Asking is easier than answering.

"Asking" must be the subject. So, between participle and gerund "asking" would be a gerund, as it serves as a noun.

Opinions vary as to correct terminology involving traditional verb forms. I would study what is available to get a proper understanding.

My opinion is that gerunds no longer exist. The class of words used as nouns that evolved from verbs are now just nouns. In living languages, usages change. "Asking" might be used today in ways it was not used 100 years ago.

There were three askings of the question.

The above might be acceptable today, perhaps not in the past.

  • it is not clear whether your opinion is purely terminological. if not, please explain
    – Toothrot
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 12:37
  • 1
    Oh, gerunds still exist. But some words are clearly nouns and not gerunds. Many people simply use the word "gerund" for any word ending in -ing; others use "participle"; still others make some kind of distinction between them, but seldom the same one. Commented May 21, 2019 at 14:26
  • I was offering an opinion that "gerunds" such as they once were, were now more nouns than verbs. As there is no absolute authority in these matters, opinion does mean something.
    – J. Taylor
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 15:24
  • There's a big difference between a fully deverbal noun (He has six more paintings in the attic) and a nouny ing-form (Fishing is forbidden. / *Fishings are forbidden. / *Six fishings took place yesterday. // */??The fishing's start was Thursday....). Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 18:10

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