Are all verbs that follow a preposition gerunds?


I'd like to know whether verbs that come after one preposition, such as the ones below, must be in the -ING form.

  • I'm interested In doing this
  • His life depends On working
  • He is good At learning languagues
  • What is the advantage Of having a car?
  • Why don't we go out instead Of sitting on here?

All verbs that came after one preposition "Of, In, At.." are written in the -ING form, is this a rule for every verb that comes after one preposition just like the examples above?

Many people didn't get my question, so I rewrote it.

I'm actually almost sure that they can only be written in the -ING form if one preposition is placed before them, because I have never seen: I'm interested in do this or He is focused on do his homework. However, I'd like to know whether or not there is one specified rule for this.


Posted 2017-01-10T13:27:56.907


4Interesting question. My answer is "sort of", but I think you're looking at it from the wrong end. It's not "verbs preceded by a preposition must be gerunds", but "these prepositional phrases require nouns, not verbs, so if you want a verb there, you have to make it a gerund." For example, you can say I'm interested in cars but not "I'm interested in fix cars" or "I'm interested in to fix cars", because you must have a noun phrase there. – stangdon – 2017-01-10T13:32:20.263

This was exactly what I meant, I was right, then? All verbs proceeded by preposition must be in -ING form? – None – 2017-01-10T13:35:16.333

2No, some prepositions take infinitivals, past participials and content clauses as complement: "We couldn't decide on how to proceed. – BillJ – 2017-01-10T14:43:38.963

I think the question is problematic. But what do you think of If you're interested in seeing proof, here it is.? Seeing, there, is a verb, but not, I think, a gerund.* – Jim Reynolds – 2017-01-10T15:10:17.360

2@YouknowwhoIam - Not exactly. Consider I want to fix cars. To is definitely a preposition, but you don't use a gerund form after it. – stangdon – 2017-01-10T15:11:20.630

@JimReynolds - I think seeing in your example has to be a gerund. A gerund is more like a noun, and a participle is more like an adjective. If you're interested in should definitely be followed by a noun phrase, so seeing looks like it has to be a gerund, meaning "the act of perceiving by eye." – stangdon – 2017-01-10T15:13:38.833

"To" is eliminated from this question, I know every verb proceeded by "To" must be in the infinitive form, "with some exceptions, of course, which is the case of: I'm looking forward to seeing you.." But I'm talking about verbs, not verbal times or infinitive, "How" isn't a verb, it's an adverb. So I guess I was right, every verb that comes after a preposition has to be in the -ING form, except for "to", "how", "where". Which are not necesasrily verbs, but nouns and adverbs. – None – 2017-01-10T15:39:13.127

@Sta I don't know! The distinction between gerund and present participles is not recognised in modern reference grammars, since many uses are ambiguous. --Wikipedia entry on gerund. Is running not "the act of travelling fast by foot" in I saw him running.? – Jim Reynolds – 2017-01-10T15:42:23.080

@JimReynolds - Well, it's true that some people think that the distinction between gerunds and participles is pretty academic or maybe not even meaningful, as you point out. – stangdon – 2017-01-10T15:49:43.613

@You Does the question now reflect your intent? – Jim Reynolds – 2017-01-10T15:58:57.543

I have edited my question because I think many people didn't get it. – None – 2017-01-10T16:47:09.783

1"All verbs that came after one preposition "Of, In, At.." are written in the -ING form, is this a rule for every verb that comes after one preposition just like the examples above?" -- Close, but no cigar. The problem is, you think in terms of words in a string, rather than constituents in a sentence. A counter-example: The man you're falling in love with did this. – Damkerng T. – 2017-01-10T16:56:38.217

@Damkerng T - But this is a phrasal verb - fall in love with, it belongs to the same clause, see: CookieMonster answer, he totally got my question. – None – 2017-01-10T17:02:16.227

1No, I didn't mean love. I meant did. – Damkerng T. – 2017-01-10T17:06:04.923

The difficulty is that most people consider items like "except", "until", "than", "before" etc., to be subordinators, not prepositions, when they have clausal complements. To me, those items are preps, which can take such complements: cf. There’s nothing we can do now except be cautious; Please be seated until requested to board your flight; The problem turned out to be worse than expected. – BillJ – 2017-01-10T17:33:47.613

@Dam seems on-track here. Everyone who came in drank champagne. Though I'm not sure that in is a preposition here. – Jim Reynolds – 2017-01-10T17:47:25.850

@Jim Reynolds "in" is a prep, but in your example, "in drank champagne", is not a constituent, not a preposition phrase. It's linear position is adjacent to a verb, "came", but it's part of the preceding relative clause "who came in". The OP is clearly looking for examples of verb phrases that function as complement of PPs, as shown by all the examples they cited. – BillJ – 2017-01-10T18:53:20.577

@BillJ Yes. I get that, or mostly anyway. But I think the OP asked from a morpheme-by-morpheme or lexeme-by-lexeme perspective, which is why I called the question problematic above. – Jim Reynolds – 2017-01-11T02:12:24.760



Generally speaking, the answer is a resounding yes: all verbs that follow a preposition should end in ing. Why is that true? Well, think about it for a second. What exactly is a preposition in English? An encyclopedia typically describes a preposition as a word preceding a noun or pronoun and expressing a relation to another word or element in the clause. So, in order to be in accordance with the rules of English grammar (this might not be true in other languages such as French), you need a noun or pronoun after a preposition. But we want to use a verb! Well, that's where gerunds come into play. All highbrow theories on what gerunds really are in English aside, in layman's terms, they are nothing but verbs acting as nouns. And that's how you resolve this problem.

Of course, the aforesaid does not apply to situations when a preposition is part of a phrasal verb because in that case they are not prepositions in their own right anymore—they intrinsically become part of a two- or three-word phrase.


You need to be seriously messed up to give your own children drugs.

Michael Rybkin

Posted 2017-01-10T13:27:56.907

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