What do you think of these sentences? I found them on the Net. I mean, should they function here as a gerund or a participle? Are both of them possible? 1 Smoking cigarettes are dangerous 2 Smoking cigarettes is dangerous

  • I'd say that "smoking cigarettes" is a non-finite gerund-participial clause functioning as subject of the sentence. Non-finite clause subjects take singular agreement, so only 2. is correct.
    – BillJ
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 17:21
  • 1
    Flying aeroplanes can be dangerous. Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 18:00
  • Does this answer your question? Gerund and participle comparison Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 18:02
  • @BillJ If the first one is correct (read warning about bush fires in Oz), the head is the noun cigarettes and smoking is an attributive modifier. Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 19:12
  • Yes, but discarded lit cigarettes are usually called "lighted (or burning) cigarettes", not "smoking cigarettes*.
    – BillJ
    Commented Jun 22, 2021 at 4:46

1 Answer 1


2 is correct, as "smoking cigarettes" is a gerund phrase, acting as a noun/subject in the sentence. However, 1 can also be correct if what you mean is that cigarettes that are burning (having smoke coming out of them) are dangerous things. :)

  • I'd say that "smoking cigarettes" is a gerund-participial clause.
    – BillJ
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 17:18

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