Two consecutive gerunds? -ing -ing?

25

5

  1. I am considering to set up a cyber cafe.
  2. I am considering setting up a cyber cafe.

I think it should be version #2 where the verb considering is followed by the gerund setting. But it sounds unnatural to me.

Can we use a gerund after "Verb+ing"?

starun008

Posted 2014-12-27T13:06:54.677

Reputation: 1 625

1You may be interested in the topic doubl-ing constraint. Though, it doesn't seem to apply to your example with its use of "considering". Consider the acceptable example in CGEL page 1243 [57.iii.b]: "We are considering buying one." – F.E. – 2014-12-27T17:20:19.797

The doubl-ing constraint applies clearest to aspectual verbs (begin, cease, continue, start, stop, etc.) and concealed passives. (CGEL page 1243-4, [57]) – F.E. – 2014-12-27T17:54:17.763

Thank you but i don't have CGEL. Do you mean we can't apply double-ing rule with each gerund verb? @F.E. – starun008 – 2014-12-27T18:52:31.453

1That doubl-ing constraint applies to only a small set of verbs. That's a grammatical constraint. But there is also a matter of "sound", when often a double -ing sequence can sound awkward or not so pleasant (even though it might be grammatically acceptable), and the given answer posts in your thread have addressed that issue. :) – F.E. – 2014-12-27T18:57:49.367

Regarding whether the first -ing word is a gerund, I just did some googling and was pleased to discover that it’s now more popular to call it a present participle than a gerund, contrary to the way I was taught. Calling it a gerund never made sense to me except by analogy with (some) Romance languages, e.g. in Italian where you say sto considerando, not sto considerante —though I think it would make even more sense to not have two separate terms. So now I'm wondering if there's a better way to title this question and how or whether I should revise my answer.… – Ben Kovitz – 2014-12-29T03:25:06.207

…I don’t think it’s our place to make a ruling about the terminology. The fact is, many people call it a present participle, many people call it a gerund, some people just talk about “present progressive” or “present continuous” and avoid giving a name to the word that ends in -ing, and in nearly every conversation, someone says that someone else is calling it by the wrong name. Any ideas, then, for what wording makes this question easiest to find for people who would benefit from reading the answers? – Ben Kovitz – 2014-12-29T03:26:22.613

@Ben Kovitz: Its a good question. I believe the reason why people (including myself) are picky about terminology is because this is ELL, and often the confusion between languages has already been codified years ago and given "correct" terms. That being said, I can see your argument: natural language did not grow up around such terms... it simply does what it does. I struggle with how helpful of an answer I can give without specifying the terminology. Is "It's natural to have two -ing words in a row" helpful? I don't think there's an easy answer to that question. – Cort Ammon – 2014-12-29T03:56:03.363

@CortAmmon I've been thinking about this ever since you posted your answer, and am now feeling little hope that any one of these terminologies can reasonably prevail over the others. I just posted details at an open question about this on ELL. If this topic has been nailed down years ago, I'd love to hear more about it.

– Ben Kovitz – 2014-12-29T06:18:54.367

Answers

28

Yes.

To native ears, the two consecutive gerunds don’t sound especially remarkable even though they both end with -ing. The construction is fairly common:

The contractor is delaying building the front porch.

We’re risking missing our plane.

I'm imagining writing a silly ending to this answer.

Three gerunds in a row is unusual but tolerable:

Some doctors are considering stopping recommending high-carbohydrate diets.

Four gerunds in a row sounds silly, though it’s still grammatically correct:

I’m enjoying imagining finishing writing this answer.


A Google search turns up 55,000 books that contain considering setting up.

Ben Kovitz

Posted 2014-12-27T13:06:54.677

Reputation: 25 752

12

Considering setting up is perfectly grammatical, but (as you correctly sense) pairing the participle with the identically-formed gerund runs up against the horror aequi principle: hearers and readers don't like immediately consecutive uses of the same construction in different roles.

(But it is entirely acceptable to repeat a construction in a parallel or deliberately contrasting roles.)

Unhappily, you can't substitute an infinitive for the gerund, because consider does not license infinitive complements. Your only recourse here is rewriting to eliminate the jangling terms, or at least separate them:

I'm thinking about setting up a cyber cafe.
I've been thinking I might set up a cyber cafe.
A notion I'm considering is setting up a cyber cafe.

StoneyB on hiatus

Posted 2014-12-27T13:06:54.677

Reputation: 176 469

Do you mean original sentence "I am considering to set up a cyber cafe" is incorrect? I am confused because I found a Newspaper headline saying "Asus considering to set up manufacturing facility in India". – starun008 – 2014-12-27T16:40:21.720

8@starun008 It is quite impossible; I guarantee that you did not read that in a headline written by a native speaker of English! – StoneyB on hiatus – 2014-12-27T16:50:54.190

I don't know if Headline was written by a native speaker. I think if one sentence is grammatically incorrect than it's incorrect for all(native and non native).But i can give the link where you can read it. http://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/asus-considering-to-set-up-manufacturing-facility-in-india-114071501058_1.html

– starun008 – 2014-12-27T18:44:35.580

4@starun008 In that link you will see that the construction "considering to" is used in the headline but the proper "considering setting up" is used in the body of the piece. I suspect that the subeditor who wrote the headline is not a native speaker, even if the author is. – Francis Davey – 2014-12-27T21:18:06.533

8@starun008 Please don't try to learn English by reading headlines in Indian newspapers. You should NOT use an infinitive after "considering". I believe that the sentence *"I am considering to set up a cyber cafe" would be considered incorrect by all native English speakers. – Dawood ibn Kareem – 2014-12-28T01:46:45.970

StoneyB, regarding what to call the first -ing word, please see my comments on the question. I'd love to hear your opinion. – Ben Kovitz – 2014-12-29T03:28:38.717

@StoneyB Asus Planning To Start Manufacturing Plant In India "feels" correct, but replacing 'Planning' with 'Considering' makes it "feel" wrong. Could you please throw some light on why this is so? (or is it just one of the many things that makes us love English? ;-) ) Also, "planning starting" in the above headline feels wrong.

– Masked Man – 2014-12-29T05:15:07.957

@Happy It's called 'licensing', which is the technical term for saying each verb picks its own kind of complements. Start licenses marked infinitival and gerund clauses but not that clauses. Consider licenses gerund and that clauses but not infinitivals. Plan licenses infinitivals and (less securely) gerunds, but not that clauses, but 'planning starting' runs you up against horror aequi.

– StoneyB on hiatus – 2014-12-29T11:38:52.257

4

You actually do not have two gerunds in a row in that case. "I am considering" is actually a present progressive tense of the verb "to consider." "Setting up a cyber cafe" is the direct object of that sentence, started off with the gerund form of "to set."

The present progressive is visible if you look at how the sentence would appear in other tenses, in particular the past tense:

"I considered setting up a cyber cafe."

I don't entirely understand why English requires the direct object clause to start with a gerund, but I think it might become more clear when the direct object is a one-word verb, rather than a full clause

"I am considering sitting."

"I considered sitting."

In these cases, it is clear that a gerund is needed so that "to sit" can function as a noun. This also shows why English speakers will not use an infinitive -- because it is not a noun so cannot function as a direct object:

"XX I am considering to sit. XX (improper)"

I think that all -ing words except "am enjoying" in Ben's "I’m enjoying imagining finishing writing this answer" are gerunds, each one acting as the direct object of the previous one. However, it may be as simple as "it sounds better to our ears, so we say it that way."

Cort Ammon

Posted 2014-12-27T13:06:54.677

Reputation: 2 185

Regarding what to call the first -ing word, please see my comments on the question. I'd love to hear your opinion. – Ben Kovitz – 2014-12-29T03:29:19.743

0

Anything with auxilliary be and then the 'ing' form is a present participle. So technically if you say I am considering running for presented its :PN+ aux Be+ present part+ gerund + etc....and not 2 gerunds in a row....

user59757

Posted 2014-12-27T13:06:54.677

Reputation: 1