ТОП 10:

The gerund and the verbal noun compared



 

§ 128. Although formed in the same way as the gerund, the verbal noun is another part of speech and has no verbal features at all. The following table shows the main differences between the gerund and the verbal noun.

 

Table VI

The characteristics of the gerund and the verbal noun

Forms Grammatical characteristics The gerund   The verbal noun  
M o r Voice and perfect   being done, having done   -  
f o l o g y The plural form   - sufferings, comings and goings
  S y n t a x Direct object I like doing morning exercises. -
Of-phrase and adjectival attributes   -   The doing of morning Exercises was very good for me. The regular doing of morning exercises  
Adverbs as a modifier   Doing morning exercises regularly will improve your health.   -  
Articles   -   The doing of morning exercises. The acting was perfect.

 

From the table we can see that the distinctive features of the gerund are its verbal categories in the sphere of morphology and its verbal combinability. The distinctive features of the verbal noun are its nominal category of number and its noun combinability. It must be taken into consideration that a verbal noun is an abstract noun, and the use of the article and the plural form is determined by the requirements of the meaning and context.

It is more difficult to discriminate between a gerund and a verbal noun in cases where the verbal characteristics of the gerund are not apparent. This happens mainly when an -ing form is used as a single word without any modifiers or with such modifiers as occur with both the gerund and the verbal noun (His coming was unexpected. Her acting was perfect). In such cases the meaning of the form should be taken into account. Thus a gerund suggests a process, an activity, whereas a verbal noun denotes kinds of occupation (skating as compared to hockey), an art form (acting, painting), a branch of knowledge (engineering, spelling as opposed to pronunciation and as a synonym for orthography).

It goes without saying that an -ing form is a pure noun when it denotes an object, often the result of activity (a building - a house; a drawing, a painting - a picture). In such cases a noun unlike a gerund, may also combine with numerals, as in two drawings, four buildings, etc.

 

The participle

 

The participle is a non-finite form of the verb. There are two forms of the participle - participle I and participle II.

 

Participle I

 

§ 129. Participle I is a non-finite form of the verb with some adjectival and adverbial features. It is formed by adding the suffix -ing to the stem of the verb.*

* For rules of spelling and pronunciation see § 7. 138

 

The verbal character of participle I is manifested morphologically in the categories of voice and perfect (see table VII) and syntactically in its combinability. Thus, like the other non-finites, it may combine: a) with a noun or a pronoun as direct, indirect or prepositional object; b) with an adverb or a prepositional phrase as an adverbial modifier; c) with a noun or adjective as a predicative.

 

a) Seeing Jane, I rushed to greet her.

We didn’t utter a word while listening to the story.

 

b) Rising early, you’ll make your days longer.

Do you know the man sitting in the middle of the first row?

 

c) Being absent-minded, he went into the wrong room.

 

Participle I is used as a pure verb form in the formation of the continuous aspect forms.

The adjectival and adverbial features of participle I are manitested in its syntactical functions as an attribute and an adverbial modifier.

 

Arriving at the station, she saw him at once, leaning agains the railing.

(adverbial modifier of time, detached attribute).

 

Non-perfect participle I active has synonymous adjectives formed from the same verb stem, such as resulting - resultant, convulsing - convulsive, abounding - abundant, deceiving - deceptive. Some participles border on adjectives when used as attributes or predicatives, and have qualitative adjectives as synonyms; for example amusing - funny, boring - dull, deafening - (very) loud. There are even some deverbal adjectives that have completely lost their verbal meaning, for example interesting, charming.

When they lose their verbal character, participles may be modified by adverbs of degree used with adjectives, such as very, so, too, as in very (greatly, exceedingly, etc.) amusing, too boring, most exciting.

 

My job is with one of the ministers - too boring and distasteful to discuss.

All this was extremely gratifying.

 

Like an adjective, participle I forms adverbs with the suffix -ly: laughingly, jokingly, surprisingly, admiringly, appealingly, feelingly.

 

You surprise me, she said feelingly.

 

The grammatical categories of participle I

 

Table VII

 

The category of perfect

The category of perfect in participle I finds its expression in the contrast of the non-perfect and perfect forms.

The non-perfect form suggests that the action denoted by participle I is simultaneous with that of the finite verb. Thus the time-reference of the action expressed by participle I can be understood only from the context, that is it is not absolute, but relative.

 

Learning foreign languages you know your native tongue better. I used to begin my day with repeating new words. you will learn a lot about your native tongue.

 

The perfect form of participle I indicates that the action denoted by the participle is prior to that denoted by the finite verb.

 
 

  Having learnt the elements of English I shall start upon French. our students start upon French or German. we started upon French.

 

The meaning of priority may be accompanied by the notion of completion or duration, depending on whether the meaning of the verb is terminative or durative.

 

Dinny took the little packet, and having brought no bag, slipped it down her dress.

Having waited several hours in the snow to see me, he was not likely to show much patience when the

house was thrown into darkness.

 

Like that of the other non-finites, the perfect form of participle I invariably expresses priority, whereas non-perfect participle I varies in its meaning according to the context, expressing either a prior or a simultaneous or a posterior action.

Non-perfect participle I regularly expresses immediate priority and denotes an instantaneous action if it is formed from terminative verbs, such as verbs of motion (to come, to enter, to arrive, to turn, to leave), of sense perception (to see, to hear, to find) and verbs of certain specific actions associated with motion (to put, to put on, to take, to take off, to seize, to grasp, to open).

 

Arriving at the station, he found his train gone.

Leaving the house, Andrew continued his round.

Turning the comer, you’ll see the house you are looking for.

Hearing a noise in the garden, I looked out of the window.

Taking off our shoes, we tiptoed into the nursery.

 

The perfect participle of the same verbs is used when there is a lapse of time between the two actions, or when the action denoted by the participle is durative. Compare the following examples:

 

Seeing Jane, I rushed to greet her. But: Having seen tine girl only once, I didn’t recognize her.

Not having seen her for a long time, I didn’t recognize her.

 

Sometimes the perfect participle is used to emphasize priority. Compare these examples:

 

Her husband, finding the right key, fits it into the lock of the bureau.

Having found the place he sought, Bateman sent in his card to the manager.

 

Non-perfect participle I may denote a posterior action, immediately following the first action, forming its part or being its result, as in:

 

Lizzy left the room, banging the door shut.

John fell, hurting his knee.

 

There may be a lapse of time between the first and the second (posterior) action. This is evident from the context.

 

I then hired a car and went home, arriving just before twelve о'clock.

We left at dawn, returning late.

 

As seen from the above examples non-perfect participle I denoting a prior action usually precedes the predicate verb. When it denotes a posterior action, it stands always after the predicate verb. In both cases it corresponds to the Russian perfective adverbial participle (деепричастие) (приехав, повернув, услышав, сняв, поднявшись, найдя, хлопнув, вернувшись).

 

The category of voice

 

§ 130. Participle I of transitive verbs, both non-perfect and perfect, has voice distinctions, which are realized in the contrast of active and passive forms:

 

Translating from English into Russian, she should know well both languages.   Having translated the text into Russian, we handed it to the teacher. Being translated into many languages, the novel is known all over the world.   Having been translated long ago, the novel is likely to be re-translated.

 

Participle I active denotes an action directed from the doer of the action, while participle I passive denotes an action directed towards it.

The carrier of the action may coincide with the subject of the sentence, as in the above examples. It may also be a noun modified by participle I used attributively, in whatever function the noun is used:

 

Do you know the students translating the text?

Have you read the text being translated by the students?

 

The doer of the action may be expressed by the nominal element of a predicative construction:

 

I heard someone mentioning your name.

I heard your name being mentioned at the conference.

 

Non-perfect participle I active of transitive verbs can be contrasted not only with participle I passive, but also with participle II:

 

taking mentioning teaching holding - being taken - being mentioned - being taught - being held   - taken - mentioned - taught - held  

 

According to the syntactical function of participle I and the aspectual character of the verb, non-perfect participle I passive may denote process, as in:

 

Have you heard anything of the conference being held at the University? (of the conference which is

being held at the University)

 

The phrase The conference held at the University is ambiguous, because it might be understood as The conference that has been held or -was held or is being held.

 

Syntactical functions of participle I

 

§ 131. Participle I performs the syntactical functions characteristic of the adjective and the adverb, and can therefore be used as attribute, predicative, or as adverbial modifier.

It may be used (a) alone or (b) as headword of a participial phrase, or else (c) as part of a predicative construction:

 

a) Let sleeping dogs lie.

He drank his coffee standing.

 

b) There are some other people waiting for you.

The youth looked at him curiously, never having seen a Forsyte with a beard.

 

c) We found him working in the garden.

 

Participle I as attribute

 

§ 132. This function is peculiar to non-perfect participle I in its main sense, that of a process simultaneous with the action denoted by the main verb or with the moment of speech. It corresponds to the Russian imperfective participle, usually active: leading - ведущий, asking - спрашивающий, sleeping - спящий. The passive participle I corresponds to the Russian imperfective passive participle: being asked - спрашиваемый, being translated -переводимый, being built - строящийся.

When a participial phrase is used as attribute it follows the modified noun. Its verbal character is evident from its verbal combinability and sometimes from the passive form itself. A participial phrase may be (a) non-detached or (b) detached:

 

a) We went along the street leading to the seashore.

Emma sat in the armchair facing the door.

Another factor concerns the formality of the language being taught.

 

b) Once a month Tommy, arriving separately, came in for a brief drink.

 

A detached participial phrase is set off from the modified noun by a comma (or commas) in writing and by a pause (or pauses) in speech.

When a single participle is used as attribute, it generally functions as a premodifier. Here we usually find only participle I active of intransitive verbs. Its verbal character is clear from the processual meaning of the verb itself: living people, a sleeping dog.

 

Participle I as a premodifying attribute differs from the gerund in the same function. The noun serves as the subject of the action expressed by the participle, as in a living man = a man who lives, a burning house = a house that is burning, a dancing girl == a girl who is dancing (or dances). The gerund suggests the destination of the object or a person’s occupation, as in writing paper =paper for writing, dancing hall = a hall for dancing, a singing teacher = a teacher of singing. Note also the difference in stress patterns. There are two stresses in the pattern with the participle (a 'burning 'house), the second being the main stress, while in the pattern with the gerund only the first (gerundial) element is stressed (a ' dancing hall); if there are two stresses, the first component has the main stress, as in a 'speaking 'habit, a 'writing 'career.

When a prior action is meant no participle I can be used as attribute, only an attributive clause is used. Thus when we translate sentences with the Russian perfective participle active with the suffix-вш into English we must use an attributive clause: спросивший - who has asked, переводивший (ранее) - who has translated or who has (had) been translating, уехавший -who has gone, вернувшийся - who has (had) returned or who returned, depending on the context or situation:

Я разговаривал со студентами, вернувшимися с практики. – I’ve just talked to the students who have come back from their teaching practice.

Я разговаривал со студентами, вернувшимися с практики на прошлой неделе. – I’ve talked to the students who came back from their school practice last week. .

Женщина, стоявшая на крыльце, вошла в дом. - The woman who had been standing on the porch went into the house, (the action expressed by the participle is prior to that of the finite verb) But: Я обратился к женщине, стоявшей на крыльце. - I addressed the woman standing on the porch (simultaneous actions).

 

Participle I as adverbial modifier

 

§ 133. All the four forms of participle I can function as adverbial modifiers of different semantic types (time, reason, manner, attendant circumstances, and sometimes condition, concession, comparison).

The semantic type of the adverbial modifier is clear from the context and the predicate group, as in:

 

Being a newcomer, he felt ill at case. (adverbial modifier of reason)

 

In some cases, however, the functional meaning is not so obvious. For example, there may be a combination of causal and temporal meaningas in:

 

Seeing her, he stopped (he stopped because he saw her, or when he saw her).

 

or of causal and conditional meaning:

 

Living alone, one becomes self-centred (as one lives alone, or if one lives alone).

 

Very often to make the semantical relationship clearer, certain conjunctions are employed, such as: when, while, though, as if, as though, if.

 

1) Participle I as adverbial modifier of timemay denote a simultaneous or a prior action. Here it corresponds to the Russian adverbial participle (деепричастие).

Non-perfect participle I active, when used as an adverbial modifier of time, usually conveys the meaning of the motion or state. Most often it is a participle of the verbs of motion (come, walk, go), or position in space (sit, lie, stand).

 

Walking along the track, Bowen burst into song.

Returning to London, Arthur had thrown himself into the work.

Standing there now on the corner of the stage, he went on as before.

Lying in the hospital with his rotting wound, he dictated his farewell letter to his brother.

 

The notion of simultaneity may be expressed more explicitly by the conjunctions when and while.

 

He felt horrible while saying this.

Don’t forget articles when speaking English.

 

Participle I passive in this function usually denotes priority.

 

He enquired hurriedly whether Mrs. Forsyte was at home and being informed that she was not, heaved a

sigh of relief.

Being left alone, Paulina and I kept silence for some time.

 

Perfect participle I as adverbial modifier of time, always denotes a prior action.

 

They wrote because they had to, and having written, thought only of what they were going to write next.

 

2) Participle I as adverbial modifier of reason can be expressed by all the four forms. The most frequently used non-perfect participles I are those of verbs denoting mental perception and emotions, for example, knowing, realizing, remembering, expecting, hoping, fearing; also the participles being and having.

Hoping to catch the train, we took a taxi.

She knew that we were guilty. And knowing it, the child in her was outraged.

Being there, I could see all.

He’s very conceited, you know, having parades and things all the time.

Having decided on this course of action some time ago, I was unable to stay at home.

 

Another characteristic feature of participles functioning as adverbials of reason consists in their combinability with negation (no matter what it is expressed by).

 

I turned back, not knowing where to go.

Even then he hadn’t been able to watch her, not having eyes in the back of his head.

 

3) The adverbial modifier of attendant circumstances is one of the most characteristic of participle I - it is considered to be the main grammatical meaning of non-perfect participle I. In this case participle I denotes some action or event parallel to the action or state denoted by the finite verb.

 

Deb was silent, fidgeting with the spoon in her saucer.

I laughed, and still laughing turned away eastward.

 

4) Participle I as an adverbial modifier of manner is akin to an adverbial modifier of attendant circumstances. The difference consists in the fact that an adverbial modifier of manner characterizes the action of the finite verb, whereas that of attendant circumstances denotes a parallel action or event.

 

He came in carrying a big parcel.

 

5) Occasionally participle I occurs as an adverbial modifier of comparison, concession or condition.

As an adverbial of comparison the participle is always preceded by the conjunction as if, as though:

 

As if obeying him, I turned and stared into his face.

 

When participle I is used as an adverbial modifier of concession the conjunction is not obligatory and then the idea of concession may be understood from the context. However the conjunction though will make the semantic relationship clearer.

 

Somebody was waiting: a man who, though moving irregularly, was making quite a speed in my direction.

 

In the same way participle I as an adverbial modifier of condition is recognized by its syntactical surroundings. It is either the subjunctive mood or the future tense form which allows a participial phrase to function as an adverbial modifier of condition:

 

She ought to be there and her absence might be resented, but being there she wouldn’t know what to say (но, если бы она была там ... , ... но будучи там ...).

Well, we’ll be in Scotland afore we know where we are, going at this speed (... если будем двигаться с такой скоростью).

 

Participle I as part of the compound verbal predicate

 

§ 134. Non-perfect participle I can be part of a compound verbal predicate of double orientation. Within this type of predicate participle I follows verbs of sense perception, such as to see, to hear, to feel, to find, to catch, also some causative verbs, such as to keep, to leave in the passive voice.

 

Jane was heard playing the piano.

Paul was found working in the garden.

The boy was caught teasing the cat.

I was kept waiting an hour or so.

I was left standing on the stage.

 

In this type of predicate participle I active is generally used, though occasionally non-perfect participle I passive is to be found.

 

He flicks the switch and “Roll Out the Barrel” is heard being whistled.

 

The predicate of double orientation consists of two parts: the first is oriented on somebody implied, and the second refers semantically to the doer of the action expressed by the subject. Thus the first example means that somebody heard that Jane was playing the piano.* Therefore sentences with this type of predicate are translated into Russian by indefinite personal or impersonal sentences, complex or simple, depending on the verb in the passive voice.

* See p. II Syntax, § 53 The compound verbal predicate of double orientation; also § 123 Predicative complexes (the subjective predicative construction).

 

Слышали (слышно было), как Джейн играет на рояле.

Меня заставили ждать почти целый час.

 

Participle I as predicative

§ 135. In the position of predicative only non-perfect participle I active occurs, its adjectival character being predominant. Although keeping the form of the participle, it is treated as an adjective, or a deverbal adjective.

The participle in this position gives the qualitative characterization to the person or thing used as subject (or object, in the case of the objective predicative).

 

The story is amusing. Your answer is surprising. We found him dying - I find the story amusing. - I consider your answer surprising. - We found that he was dying.

 

Participle I as predicative may be used with other linkverbs, in which case it may keep its verbal character, as in:

 

Isadora remained standing.

 







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