What the hell is a gerund? Well, I am so glad you asked!
In the simplest terms, a gerund is a verb that is used as a noun. More specifically, a gerund is a present participle (a verb that ends in –ing) that, under the right circumstances, becomes a noun instead of a verb.
So what are the right circumstances? When is a verb not a verb? Well, there are a number of ways in which gerunds are used, and here they are, along with some examples (I have bolded the gerund in each example):
1) As the subject of a verb.
Walking the plank can be really scary when you’re in shark-infested waters.
2) As the object of a verb.
The pirates planned on plundering from dusk to dawn.
3) As a predicate nominative or complement.
Another exhilarating pirate activity is swashbuckling.
4) As the object of a preposition.
At the end of the day pirates like to unwind by drinking.
5) As a substitute for an infinitive.
Pillaging is an art. (Instead of: To pillage is an art.)
And that, me hearties, is how you identify — and use — gerunds. Time to weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen! Or curl up on the beach with a nice bottle of plundered rum.
Until grammar brings us together again.