Tricky English Grammar: Gerund Subjects

To make a verb into a noun, we add -ing: Jump –> Jumping

Now we can use this word the same way we would any other noun.  It can be the subject or the object of a verb. It can be the object of a preposition.

Gerund subjects take a singular verb.

Exercising keeps you healthy.

Cooking costs less than eating out.

Shopping is an expensive hobby.

Students often get confused when trying to use gerund subjects because the gerund is often followed by a plural noun.  This gerund phrase is still singular. The verbs that follows should still be singular!

Jumping from walls is dangerous.

Cooking meals at home is cheaper than eating out.

Reading books is a good way to improve your English.

Practice One: Complete the following sentences. Remember that your gerund subject is singular!

Some possible answers are below.

Meeting people _____________________________________________________

Raising children ____________________________________________________

Climbing mountains _________________________________________________

Watching movies ___________________________________________________

Taking tests ______________________________________________________

people laughing smiling book club reading read adults women men

However, if you have two gerund subjects that are two different activities, then your verb should be plural.

Reading books in English and talking with native speakers are good ways to practice.

Jogging and biking give your heart a good workout.

Taking tests and giving presentations stress many people out.

Practice Two: Decide whether you need a singular or a plural verb in the blank.

Answers below

Taking photographs (help) _________________ us remember our vacations.

Wearing suits (be) _________ less comfortable than wearing jeans.

Babysitting young children and taking care of puppies (require) ______ a lot of energy and patience.

Riding the bus during rush hour (be) ____ crowded.

Traveling and having international friends (open) ____ your mind.


ANSWERS – Practice One:

Meeting people makes shy people nervous.

Raising children costs a lot of money.

Climbing mountains is hard work.

Watching movies helps many people relax.

Taking tests gives him a headache.

ANSWERS – Practice Two:

helps / is / require / is / open