just a quick question about what the word "reading" would be classified as in the following sentence:

The students get practice reading at home.

If the sentence didn't have the word "get" it would certainly seem to be a gerund, but with the addition of the word "get" I was having trouble identifying it exactly. I am still of the opinion that it is a gerund, but a friend was arguing that it is an infinitive of some type (continuous infinitive, perhaps).

  • 2
    I suspect this is the kind of distinction that linguists write research papers about, but ordinary speakers never even notice. In other words, there might be an answer, but I don't know what difference it will make to how you understand or speak English.
    – IMSoP
    Oct 17, 2020 at 10:58
  • @IMSoP. Indeed! In fact, the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language dispenses with the term gerund altogether. It calls this -ing form the gerund-participle.
    – Shoe
    Oct 17, 2020 at 11:31
  • A quick dictionary search will tell you that reading is a noun in this context. It is a gerundial noun, which you may also find easily. When posing such simple questions it is best to show that you have first made an effort to answer them yourself. Otherwise you run the risk of the site watchdogs voting to close the question.
    – Anton
    Oct 17, 2020 at 11:36
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    @Anton I disagree that it's that obvious; it could be argued that "practice" is the noun attached to "get", and "reading" is a separate verb; I don't know if that interpretation how water, but it's not impossible. The admonition to do some research also feels misplaced, because the OP already mentioned that they thought it was a gerund, and explained why they weren't sure.
    – IMSoP
    Oct 17, 2020 at 12:12
  • @IMSoP - Yes, that was the point of contention: if "practice" is an object in this sentence, then would the word "reading" still be a noun?
    – trident
    Oct 17, 2020 at 12:55

1 Answer 1


Migrating a comment by BillJ to the Answer section; if they add their own answer, I will delete this.

"Reading" is a verb here and hence "reading at home" is a clause functioning as an adjunct in clause structure.

Unlike a noun, it can be modified by an adverb as in "regularly reading". Further, an NP object could be added, as in "The students get practice reading suitable books at home".

I'm not sure what semantic subtype of adjunct it is, though it may be a peripheral case of means (cf. "The students get practice by reading at home").


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