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What's the difference between a gerund and a participle?

The doctor was talking to the patient.

Here 'talking' is used as verb, gerund or participle?

  • Define those terms, and you’ll have your answer. Note that gerunds and participles are still verbal forms, even when acting as substantives or modifiers.
    – tchrist
    Jul 27, 2012 at 2:36
  • 1
    If you want a name for talking, it depends on the construction. This is the Progressive construction. That's the only useful name. Jul 27, 2012 at 3:06

1 Answer 1


It depends on how you normally call things in grammar. It can either be a verb in +ing form or a present participle.

  • verb in +ing form (past progressive):

The doctor was talking to the patient.

  • present participle

The doctor was talking to the patient.

The talking bird is a mynah. (used as an adjective)

  • On the other hand, a gerund would be like this:

The doctor enjoys talking to patients.

Talking to patients helps.

  • 1
    I assume you didn't mean to include The doctor was talking to the patient. twice. Jul 27, 2012 at 3:25
  • I did :-) I wanted to show how "talking" can either be called a verb in v+ing or a present participle by different people
    – Cool Elf
    Jul 27, 2012 at 4:17

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