I am currently working on -ing nominalizations and I've noticed that some grammar books refer to verbal nouns as deverbal nouns. Do you (English native speakers) make the difference or do you consider these two types of nouns as being the same ? The only thing I'm sure of is that both verbal nouns and deverbal nouns derive from verbs. I just want to be sure that these two concepts exist in English and that a difference exists. Thank you, because I'm starting losing my mind!!

  • 1
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deverbal_noun explains the difference.
    – JeffSahol
    Aug 14, 2012 at 16:12
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    I have never come across the term 'deverbal noun' in any grammar book. Is its use perhaps confined to the United States? Aug 14, 2012 at 16:20
  • @BarrieEngland Never heard of it, either.
    – tchrist
    Aug 14, 2012 at 16:33
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    I've heard of the term, but it's obscure. It may be a US thing, my education is wholly US. But I honestly can't remember if I learned of it in high school, in a university linguistics course, or in the course of learning a language other than English. Aug 14, 2012 at 16:47

1 Answer 1


A verbal noun, for example a gerund, is grammatically used as a noun but is still quite verb-y.

Shooting clay pigeons is a pleasant activity.


A deverbal noun, which is fully nominalized as a common noun and can take plurals, determiners, etc.

The police apprehended the people who carried out the shootings.

Note that since a verbal noun and a deverbal noun can sometimes have identical forms, this might be a bit confusing, I suppose. But deverbals don't all end in "-ing" or "-ed", for example.

(Mnemonically, you can think of "verbal nouns" as being verbal in nature, while "deverbal nouns" are nouns that have been de-verbed.)

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    thank you very much Mark Beadles. Now, I'm sure the two notions exist. A Thank you to Barry (from) England who re-assured me on the idea that in England, this is an unknown topic.
    – bab
    Aug 14, 2012 at 16:38
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    Pretty much unknown in America, too. And the answer's spot on; note how Mark indicated the tests for gerundhood (direct object) and full nouniness (article). Aug 14, 2012 at 18:44
  • "for example a gerund"? How do you differentiate the types of verbal nouns?
    – user378171
    Jun 27, 2020 at 0:34

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